CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - All week long, Livingstone College is hosting events to commemorate 125 Years of Black College Football. Saturday, the Blue Bears will take on the Golden Bulls.
Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., the president of Livingstone College and Dr. Ronald Carter, the President of Johnson C. Smith University stopped by WBTV News on Bounce with Brigida Mack and Delano Little to talk about the friendly rivalry.
The historic Commemorative Classic between the Golden Bulls and Blue Bears will take place this Saturday. It's at Livingstone's Alumni Memorial Football Stadium in Salisbury. The game starts at 1 p.m. Tickets for general admission is $15.
125 years ago, Livingstone College awaited the arrival of Johnson C. Smith University (then Biddle Memorial Institute), who traveled by horse and buggy to Salisbury to play football.
But it wasn't just any game. That contest, held on a snowy Dec. 27, 1892, on the front lawn of Livingstone College, was the first black college football game played in America.
This year marks the 125 anniversary of that game as the two teams go to battle again on Nov. 4 in what is now called the Commemorative Classic.
The annual classic game started in 2009 to celebrate the history of the inaugural game and has continued ever since.
The original Livingstone team was formally organized in the fall of 1892 and included J.W. Walker (captain); W.J. Trent (manager), who later became the longest-serving president of Livingstone; R.J, Rencher; Henry Rives; C.N. Garland; J.R. Dillard; J.B.A. Yelverton; Wade Hampton; Charles H Patrick; J.J. Taylor; and F.H. Cummings.
According to the college newspaper's 1930 edition, team members purchased a regulation football and uniforms, and the players equipped their street shoes with cleats, taking them off after practice. The young women of the school's industrial department made the players' uniforms.
The teams played two 45-minute halves with W.J. Trent scoring Livingstone's only touchdown on a fumble recovery. Biddle argued that the fumble was recovered out of bounds as the snow had covered the field's markings.
The official ruled in Biddle's favor, allowing them to keep the 5-0 lead and giving them the victory.
Livingstone College will kick off its celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 1, with a student pep rally, followed by an alumni reception on Nov. 2 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Hilliard Room of the Hood Building on campus.
On Friday, Nov. 3, the annual Commemorative Classic Hall of Fame banquet will be held at 6 p.m. at the Livingstone College School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, located at 530 South Jake Alexander Blvd, when each school will induct a former player into the Hall of Fame.
Special guests at the banquet will include Marques Fitch, executive director of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, and CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams.