Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cooper finally getting his due as UNC history-maker

Thanks to Dave Fulton of Charlotte who alerted me to this outstanding story by David Scott in Sunday's Charlotte Observer on Willie Cooper of Elm City.

Most people, myself included, think Charlie Scott was the first African-American basketball player at the University of North Carolina but Scott was only the first black member of the UNC varsity. Cooper actually integrated UNC basketball in 1964, two years before Scott arrived, after a standout career at Elm City's Frederick Douglass High School under head coach Harvey Reid Jr.

Cooper only played one season of freshman basketball then decided to concentrate on his academics, opening the way for Scott to make his historical entrance on the Tar Heels varsity squad.

The article by David Scott mentions that the Douglass High team's bus driver was a history teacher at the school named Phil Ford Sr., whose 8-year-old son would accompany the team to games. The elder Ford later taught at Fike High School and the younger Ford, well, he made a name for himself as the starting shortstop on Rocky Mount Senior High's 1973 4-A state championship baseball team as well as doing some things in basketball of note.

Anyway, thanks to Dave Fulton for the tip on an outstanding and historical read!


  1. Hello Paul, my friends usually say they learn something new from me everyday! GUESS WHAT? I learned something from you! A little history never hurt anyone! Now i can ask them if they know who the 1st african american basketball player for UNC was! Here i go again teaching them something NEW! Your awesome!

    Bryson's MoM

  2. Thanks, BrysonsMom! I'm glad that you're not only reading my blog but LEARNING from it!