These pictures tell the story of Washington and Lee's progress, both in general and regarding athletics. Along with the rest of America, although considerably slower than in other areas of the country, W&L made massive strides in increasing its black presence during the hard-fought Civil Rights era. In 1968, a young black man wearing what seems to be a W&L uniform sat on a bench with other athletes, including white W&L students. While the Calyx does not mention this athlete, it is possible he at least practiced with the W&L team, considering his uniform. Even if he represented another school, he is sitting on a bench with other W&L athletes, something that may not have happened even ten years before the time of this photo.
To investigate the progression of race relations in W&L athletics post-integration, our team searched Calyx yearbooks to find increasing numbers of black student-athletes on our rosters. We believed that a greater diversity among athletic teams would suggest a more accepting, engaging W&L community. Despite the many trials and tribulations faced in the process of diversifying W&L athletics, we can see many black athletes represented throughout the 70's in yearbook photos and brochures. Some of these athletes, such as Tony Perry, would serve in leadership positions within the team and even receive All-Conference and All-American honors. In a 50-year time-period, from the early 1920's to the earlier 1970's, W&L football went from refusing to play opposing teams with black players to having four players of color on the 1973 football team. Progression of female student-athletes occurred later on. W&L did not become a coed University until 1986, and in 1987, both the women's cross country and swimming teams would introduce the first student-athletes who were women of color.
While the integration of student-athletes of color on W&L's athletic teams was promising, there is still a concern for the lack of documentation on some of these athletes. Throughout our search, it was difficult to name and recognize some of the student-athletes of color. We would be able to identify the black student by the roster photo, but often the Calyx did not provide a roster lineup to identify the student-athlete. Additionally, many of these athletes did not even have headshots in the yearbook. With more extensive searches surely we would be able to come up with the names of some of these athletes. Still, the Calyx, meant to identify and celebrate the achievements of the student body, did not have any mention of these students other than a photo. This fact alone raises questions about whether W&L celebrated these athletes in actuality. Yes, this period in W&L's history brought substantial improvements in race relations, but there was still plenty of room for growth.