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New Joyce Center Display Celebrates Black Student-Athletes at Notre Dame

Feb 5, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

The newly updated Black Student-Athletes display is located at the top of the Gate 1 stairs in the Joyce Center.

The athletics department and Monogram Club unveiled an updated display on Wednesday afternoon, celebrating the history of black student-athletes at Notre Dame. The display features 20 individual panels commemorating the athletic, academic and service achievements of several of the University’s most outstanding stars, including All-Americans, Olympians, NCAA champions and professional athletes.

Located at the top of the Gate 1 stairs near the Student Welfare & Development office, the display includes images of 32 former Notre Dame student-athletes from 11 Fighting Irish programs. From pioneers like Frazier Thompson (’47) to recent graduates such as Kayla McBride (’14) and Natalia Achonwa (’14), eight decades of Notre Dame athletics are represented.

The wall update could perhaps not come at a more appropriate time, as February is Black History Month and 2015 marks 70 years since Thompson, a member of the track and field team, became the first black student-athlete to earn a monogram at Notre Dame. Arriving on campus as part of the Navy’s V-12 training program, Thompson competed in the 100- and 200-yard dashes, and also became the first African-American student to graduate from the University.

With nine student-athletes each, football and track and field are the most prominent sports on the new display. Among those is Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, who starred both on the gridiron and the track. Although best known as an electrifying playmaker under head coach Lou Holtz, Ismail also still holds the Irish record in the 55m dash.

Some other notable student-athletes featured include track and field standouts Errol Williams (’98) and Maryann Erigha (’07), recipients of Notre Dame’s prestigious Byron V. Kanaley Award, presented each year to seniors who have been most exemplary as students and leaders.

Outside of athletic achievements, the wall also celebrates individuals such as Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (’99, basketball) and Minnesota Supreme Court justice Alan Page (’67, football), who served as principal speaker at the University’s 159th Commencement Exercises in 2004.

ZE Design of Miamisburg, Ohio produced the display, which is themed similarly to the women’s athletics wall completed in 2013.

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