What Channel Is The Nebraska Football Game On Today Virginia Tech’s Early Black History

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Virginia Tech’s Early Black History

In 1890, Charles Owens started at Virginia Tech (VT) as a janitor in one of the barracks. Soon after, he joined the band’s students as a senior drummer. Floyd Mead was introduced to the Virginia Tech family when, after living with the Thomas family, Thomas would hang Floyd around the barracks as a toddler. The cadets quickly took to Floyd and made him the mascot of the VT sports teams. When he got a little older, he started working in the Mess Hall. He later handed over his mascot job to a turkey he had trained to cheer on the football team when he showed it off with a ribbon.

A black man working in VT was John Sears in 1917; who became known as John the Barber, this nickname was given to him by the cadets as their favorite barber. Soon, in 1919, Pat Mills became a popular janitor and debater. He even won an argument about Old Negroes.

In the 1950s, desegregation came to the Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg, VT. After segregation, black students attended Virginia Tech along with Irving L. Pedrew III began his studies in 1953. That same year, the group that would later become the Human Relations Council was founded by Jerry Bonet. Their meetings were held at the Blacksburg Presbyterian Church.

It was 15 years later that the first black student graduated from VT with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. That student was Charlie Yates, who later served as one of the faculty at Virginia Tech. A year later in 1959, Mr. Whitehurst became Virginia Tech’s first black member of the Board of Visitors. He was also the first black man to go to the ring.

While black men had previously attended college, black women did not show up until 1966 at Virginia Tech. Now that blacks were getting more privileges and winning more awards, scholarships soon appeared. The first was an athletic scholarship awarded to Jerry Gaines for running. He was also the first black person to be inducted into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame.

In 1968, after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Virginia Tech students held a pilgrimage in his honor. On a lighter note, that same year, the first black woman was chosen as homecoming queen. As the 60s came to a close, more and more black students were starting and playing on VT sports teams. This is just a small glimpse into the accomplishments and achievements of the black members of the VT family.

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