Wilmington to honor local member of Black 14 with proclamation Saturday

March 7 to be named Mel Hamilton Day

Wilmington to honor local member of Black 14 with proclamation Saturday

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The City of Wilmington will declare March 7 as Mel Hamilton Day during a proclamation ceremony free and open to the public. The event will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the ILA Hall, located at 1305 South Fifth Ave. in Wilmington. Mel Hamilton plans to attend.

The Black 14

Mel Hamilton, who grew up in Wilmington, was a member of the historic University of Wyoming Black 14 that protested the racist policies of Brigham Young University in 1969.

The Black 14 was kicked off the 1969 University of Wyoming football team without explanation for protesting racist policies.
The Black 14 was kicked off the 1969 University of Wyoming football team without explanation for protesting racist policies. (Source: Carey Hamilton)

BYU was owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as the Mormons). The church had policies in place that did not allow black men to practice priesthood.

1969 University of Wyoming football team.
1969 University of Wyoming football team. (Source: UW American Heritage Center)

Hamilton and 13 of his UW football teammates protested BYU before a game by wearing black armbands on their civilian clothes.

The group was immediately kicked off the team, and thrust into history and national spotlight, becoming known as the Black 14.

Lasting Legacy

A mural commemorating the 1969 University of Wyoming Black 14.
A mural commemorating the 1969 University of Wyoming Black 14. (Source: Carey Hamilton)

The actions of the Black 14 led to the UW changing their policy to allow student athletes the right to protest. In 1978, the Mormon Church reversed its’ policy and opened the priesthood to African Americans.

Hamilton graduated from the UW and went on to become a principal and a leading educator in the state of Wyoming. He also joined the NAACP and has continued a lifelong commitment to racial equality. Hamilton also served in the US Army.

City Proclamation

The following proclamation will be read during Saturday’s event:

City of Wilmington Mel Hamilton Day Proclamation
City of Wilmington Mel Hamilton Day Proclamation (Source: City of Wilmington)

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