No one could blame Sylvester Norwood if he never wanted to set foot in Oklahoma again. But the 71-year-old Kingfisher native wants to return to Norman, a place he has not seen since he was 18.
It was there in 1955 when he helped write a small chapter of history for the University of Oklahoma by becoming one of the first four black players to try out for its football program.
Needless to say, they were not exactly greeted with open arms.
“All the prejudice was a product of the times, I suppose. Most of the guys on that (freshman) team had never played against a black player before, so they had no idea what we were about,” Norwood said. “Plus, no Negro players had ever played football at OU, and a lot of people really didn’t want that to change.”
All four survived the first month of practice and school, and financial strains. In October, Norwood suffered a back injury during tackling drills and had to leave the team. By month’s end, all four were gone.
“I still think about those days and wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t gotten hurt. But things happen for a reason,” said Norwood. “Believe it or not, I’m still a Sooner fan.” “Jay C. Upchurch