February marks Black History Month, and in its honor, Kansas Athletics announced the Marian E. Washington Trailblazer series. The annual series will highlight the illustrious achievements and accomplishments of current and former African Americans who have molded Kansas Athletics into the program it is today.
Each week in February the series will showcase an outstanding African American who blazed their way through the University of Kansas and made a lasting impact on the program.
The namesake comes from Marian E. Washington, who was a former Kansas women’s basketball coach for 31 seasons, from 1973 to 2004. Washington served as the first athletics director for women’s athletics under Title IX at the University for five years. Washington was the first African-American woman to coach a United States women’s basketball team in an international competition.
“I’m very excited to be associated with this new KU series,” Washington said in a statement to Kansas Athletics. “I feel that there are so many people of color that have contributed to our great university, and it’s wonderful that we’re giving our fan base, alums and community an opportunity to learn more about them.”
Washington was the first to be celebrated this month, followed by John McLendon for week two, Curtis McClinton for week three and finally Stanley Redwine.
“It’s a real honor for me, and it’s one of the most important initiatives that we preserve and tell the stories of these great Kansas Jayhawk trailblazers," Washington said. "This series will provide a legacy my family will be very proud of.”
John McLendon was the first African American to earn a physical education degree from the University in 1937. He was an asset in integrating the Robinson Center swimming pool, and is also a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. McLendon went on to become the first African American to coach in professional basketball.
Curtis McClinton was one of the first African-American football players at Kansas. He also spent time on the Kansas track team, and was the 1960 Big 8 Indoor High Hurdles Champion. McClinton graduated in 1962 and was drafted by the Dallas Texans, who later became the Kansas City Chiefs. He then went on to score a touchdown in the 1970 Super Bowl, making him the first American Football League player to score in a Super Bowl.
Stanley Redwine, the week four feature, is a member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame and is currently in his 20th season as the head coach of the Kansas men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs. Redwine is the first African-American men’s track coach in KU history. He was just named a Team USA assistant coach for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“We are proud to create this new series honoring the trailblazers who were paramount in furthering the African-American student-athlete advancement here at KU and beyond,” Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a press release. “Marian E. Washington’s impact is evident when you read and hear stories from those she influenced and how it extends far beyond sports.”
—Edited by Connor Heaton