UMD Student-Athlete DEI Council Holds Watch Party and Discussion Panel
The panel included current UMD basketball players Joshua Brown and Isaiah Watts, alongside former Bulldogs Dr. Harry Oden and Yusuf Abdullah.
DULUTH, Minn.- In honor of Black History Month, student-athletes from UMD’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council hosted an event, Sunday evening, discussing how one college basketball team, during the height of the Civil Right Movement, shattered racial barriers, changing collegiate athletics forever.
The event was a watch party of the film “The Loyola Project”, a documentary that follows the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team who made their own mark on history, on their way to becoming National Champions. Athletes on the Bulldogs men’s basketball team and head of the DEI Council, Joshua Brown and Isaiah Watts were the brains behind Sunday’s event.
“All aspects in life, you can always get better from where you’re at. And so, no matter what people want to say about racism or about discrimination and the point it’s at now, there can always be another step and a better step,” says Brown.
“You could say it’s history and stuff that happened then, but then is now. The same stuff that happened then is now and that’s what we’re tying together with this film and having the panel here,” says Watts.
Following the film, a discussion panel was held with Joshua and Isaiah, alongside two UMD men’s basketball greats, Yusuf Abdullah and Dr. Harry Oden, a 1963 graduate who was one of the first black student-athletes recruited by the Bulldogs.
“Twin cities campus did no recruit black basketball players but I had a pretty good career. I was a three year starter here, matter fact I would become the first black to ever start on any athletic team here at UMD, the first one to make All-Conference, but it was tough, especially when you’re the only black kid on campus. It fills your heart good when you can walk around campus and see someone else that looks like you,” says Oden.
“Him and I used to have stories with a lot of similarities to what you’ll see in the Loyola Project, that happened to him, as well as happened to me and even the next generation currently. So it’s just important for us to continue to have these conversations, bringing light to some of the racial concerns that we have and disparities and just really try to bring us together so we can acknowledge some of the challenges our student athletes are having,” says Abdullah.
The event was catered by Duluth black owned business, Jamrock Cultural Restaurant. The DEI Council says they hope to have more events like this in the future.