PROVO, Utah – There’s a lot of history with BYU football.
Saturday’s game against Wyoming in Provo will bring back some of that history. Not for former BYU players, but for former Wyoming players.
“Overall, their story is amazing,” said BYU senior Elisabeth Ahlstrom.
It’s a story that many people may not know, which is why BYU journalism students made a documentary about it. They call it The Black 14.
“It definitely exploded way bigger than we imagined,” Ahlstrom said. “It’s a story that I think needs to be told.”
The Black 14 refers to 14 Wyoming football players who, in 1969, planned to protest their game against BYU by wearing black armbands. It was during the Civil rights movementand players criticized that black people were not allowed in the priesthood of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other racial issues.
The Wyoming coach found out about their plan and kicked them all off the team. It was a move that shocked them.
“I think what they went through is incredibly moving and incredibly touching,” said Abby Gunderson, a BYU official who helped make the documentary. “That was priority number one, just making sure we were accurately describing their experience and really their feelings.”
BYU journalism students visited 11 states in 10 days to interview former players.
The premiere and screening of the documentary took place on the BYU campus on Friday evening.
Two members of the Black 14 were there. They are proud of what they stood for back then. They are equally proud now of the reconciliation between them and the Church.
“We have to pay it up front. We have to pay it forward. And those people have been so nice,” said Mel Hamilton, one of the Black 14.
Now the Black 14 and the Church have teamed up to donate food to food banks across the country. It’s a coalition that players never thought would happen.
“It’s quite emotional, actually,” said John Griffin, member of The Black 14. “Not in my wildest dreams. nobody cares.
It proves that sometimes history can help change the future.
“When we come together to help other people, that’s when we’re going to be truly united and that’s when we’re going to do the most good,” Gunderson said.
The Black 14 will light the Y in Y Mountain ahead of Saturday’s game. They will also be honored in BYU’s game against Wyoming.