Breaking the color barrier in little old Cullowhee
At first glance, a basketball star’s story is just that, a story.
Very few athletes have the opportunity to break down some form of barrier.
Asheville’s Henry Logan did for college basketball in North Carolina
what Jackie Robinson did for Major League Baseball. After completing
high school, he enrolled at Western Carolina in 1964, becoming North
Carolina’s first African-American collegiate athlete, and the first
to play basketball for a “white” public institution in 1964.
In spite of the heightened racial tensions of the 1960s and the Civil
Rights Movement, the gamble of recruiting an African-American athlete
paid off. Over the course of his four years in a Catamount uniform,
which ended in 1968, he established four records and placed the university
on a new plateau of recognition; this recognition came partly because
he broke the color barrier, and partly because he was so good.
An All-American each of his years at WCU, Logan helped the United States
take the gold medal in the 1967 Pan American Games.
The WCU Board of Trustees wrote that, “as the first African-American
basketball player to be recruited by and play for a predominantly white
institution in the Southeast, Henry Logan helped to open the door of
opportunity for other African-American student athletes, both at Western
Carolina and at many other institutions.” The board continued, “Henry
Logan brought national attention to the university and created among
students, alumni and fans an enduring spirit of loyalty to Western Carolina.”
As for his school records, Logan scored 60 points in a game against
Atlantic Christian in 1967. He also holds the record for most
points in a season (1,049), a career (3,290) and highest career points
Professional Career and Recognition
After his tenure in Cullowhee, Logan advanced to professional basketball
from 1968 - 1970. On the pro circuit, he played for the Oakland
Oaks, Washington Caps, and Virginia Squires; while this makes him seem
like a journeyman, these three teams were actually the one-in-the-same.
Each year that he played, the franchise moved.
In 2000, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inducted Logan as member
of its 37th class. Others in his induction class included Duke
head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson.
Information used for this article gathered from the following locations:
A Mountain Heritage: The Illustrated History of Western Carolina
By: Curtis W. Wood and H. Tyler Blethen.