On Nov. 3, 1955, with a crowd of more than 8,000, Douglass faced off against Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City’s first integrated high school sporting event.
The long-awaited matchup served to bridge the chasm that had widened due to segregation laws that were a product of the time. Black athletes had made substantial strides on the national scene, but Oklahoma still was dragging its feet on integrating its public school system.
The game lived up to the hype, as the two teams went toe-to-toe for four quarters of defense-dominated action.
Capitol Hill eventually scored a touchdown in the final 30 seconds to edge the Trojans, 13-6. But the final score, according to Capitol Hill quarterback Dick Soergel, was merely a footnote.
“We lived in a segregated society and that’s just the way it was,” said Soergel. “But we had learned to respect those kids from Douglass because of those scrimmages. And I think everyone knew integration was inevitable. It needed to happen. And I really believe that game helped open the door. I know I was glad to be a part of it.”
Trojan signal caller Russell Perry agreed.
“Although we went down in defeat, it will be something I always look back on with fondness, because of what it meant,” said Perry, now publisher and editor of the Black Chronicle. “That football game was truly the beginning of integration in our public schools across the state of Oklahoma.” “Jay C. Upchurch