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Notre Dame Athletics To Celebrate 75th Anniversary of Black Student-Athletes

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Notre Dame athletics department will celebrate 75 years of Black student-athletes’ academic, athletic and postgraduate impact on the University and broader community by sharing their stories and experiences during the 2021 calendar year.

“Examining, honoring and learning from the experiences of Black student-athletes at Notre Dame over the past 75 years is a critical piece of the commitment we have made to our community through our StaND Together Initiative,” University Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said.

A committee consisting of administrators and both current and former student-athletes has been working to plan the initiative for several months. As part of that work, the committee will be contacting all former Black student-athletes to learn more about their stories and experiences at Notre Dame and will then provide a platform to share those stories.

In honoring and telling the stories of our current and former Black student-athletes, Notre Dame Athletics aims to learn from those experiences to build a more inclusive community, connecting with their mission to Stand Together.

At the forefront of that effort is Angie Torain, the newly minted Senior Associate Athletics Director for Culture, Diversity and Engagement.

“We want to tell 75 compelling, heartfelt and informative stories to learn and grow from as we delve into topics such as leadership, stereotypes, friendship and many more experiences,” Torain said.

The celebration has been planned to honor the 75th anniversary of Frazier Thompson, the first Black student-athlete, competing in a varsity sport, track & field, at the University of Notre Dame. Thompson came to Notre Dame in the fall of 1944 by way of the Navy V-12 Program. He would go on to earn two Monograms and complete his degree in pre-professional studies in 1947.

Previously planned to run concurrent with the 2020-21 academic year, the events surrounding the 75th anniversary celebration have been pushed back to the winter, spring and fall of 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the 75 stories, some of which will include ‘First of Their Sports’ features, the athletics department will host panels, video discussions, receptions, service opportunities and community-building events starting in 2021.

The announcement comes as part of Notre Dame’s Unity Week in Athletics (October 18-24). In partnership with the campus community, the Notre Dame Police Department and others, the athletics department is celebrating a week of Unity and Diversity through educational events for student-athletes and staff, building towards ACC Unity Week (October 24-31).

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