Clarence Walker

first_imgFew, if any, of the people in this part of the state know the story of Clarence Walker.  An article of the Indianapolis Star written by Zach Keefer relates the hardships that Clarence faced when John Wooden recruited him to play basketball at Indiana State in the late 1940’s.  You probably have guessed by now that Clarence Walker was black.Clarence was the first black player to play for those white colleges who were invited to play in all the tournaments at that time (NCAA, NIT, NAIB).  Wooden was a very young coach and did not believe in segregated sports.  When Indiana State was invited to play in a post-season tournament, Clarence Walker was told he would have to stay behind.  Wooden refused and took him anyway.  It took some doing, but in 1948 Clarence Walker became the first black player to play in what was before an all-white tournament.  When you turn on the basketball tournament today, remember, just 70 years ago these games were for “whites” only.  Clarence went through all the racial factors present in those days–no restaurant eating, no hotel rooms, no service.  He was a part of the Jim Crow Society of the day.  This society felt that blacks were inferior and did not belong with whites.Through all this, Clarence survived by writing a journal of his thoughts.  The East Chicago native, who has long since past away, gave this journal to his oldest son.  Add Clarence Walker to the list of names who broke the color barrier in sports!last_img