Some of you may or may not know of the "Syracuse 8." If you don't we'll be starting off with a little history lesson regarding our Syracuse Orange and a dark time in the past that a bright light shone through.
In the fall of 1970, the Syracuse Football Team took the field for their home opener without nine prominent members of the team. These nine players (mistakenly known as the Syracuse 8), began boycotting the football team as a measure of protest against "institutionalized racial mistreatment" of the players on the squad. The tensions eventually rose to protests on Marshall Street involving police tear gassing the crowds. In December of 1970, the findings of the committee formed to look into the allegations regarding the department showed that the department "showed an unwarranted insensitivity" to African-American athletes and resulted in reforms throughout the department in conjunction with the Chancellor John Corbally, Jr. It was a landmark shift in the campus community. From the Syracuse Archives:
The courageous stand made by Allen, Bulls, Godbolt, Harrell, Lobon, McGill, Muhammad, Walker, and Womack did result in real change within Syracuse University. The University came to see that the actions of the Syracuse 8 were justified and the changes they had fought for were needed. In 2006, Syracuse University formally recognized the contributions made by the Syracuse 8 by awarding them the Chancellor’s Medal for Extraordinary Courage.
The Courage Award is is an annual award to a student athlete. It was formerly given in memory of Ernie Davis. Per the University:
[The Courage Award is] presented annually to a student-athlete who has overcome a socially, economically or otherwise disadvantaged background or serious injury and, in the opinion of his or her coaches and teammates, has demonstrated uncommon bravery or highly principled behavior in the face of adversity. Moreover it is awarded to that athlete, regardless of race, color or gender, whose actions, like the actions of the men in whose honor this award is being made, both reflect these values and a commitment to sportsmanship and academic achievement. In November, 2006, the University honored the Syracuse 8, who is a group of African-American student-athletes who had the courage to stand up for their convictions. To honor these brave men and the important contributions they made in the university quest to achieve diversity and understanding, the athletic department has created the award of courage.
The 2015 Syracuse 8 Courage Award winner is Emmanuel "Gogo" Kollie, a senior member of the Syracuse Men's Soccer team. Gogo grew up in Monrova, Liberia until age 13 when he immigrated to Philadelphia. He has become an integral part of the Athletic community and was described as an inspiration numerous times. When receiving the award, the crowd rose in a standing ovation for him. Gogo is finishing a degree in Child and Family studies, looking to get into starting a youth soccer academy and give back to the game that helped propel him to a college degree.
Past winners of the Courage Award are below:
- 2014 - Terrel Hunt
- 2013 - Nancy Cantor
- 2012 - #SHAMARKO Thomas
- 2011 - Rob Long
- 2010 - Jeremy Thompson