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Heritage of Sports: Darrell Brown

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Nearly three years ago, the first black Razorback died. In fall 1965, Darrell Brown broke the barrier as a tailback on the UA’s freshman football team.

In those first couple weeks, Brown later recalled, no teammate or coach spoke to him. He endured racial slurs, wasn’t allowed to eat dinner with rest of the team and had to play the role of a tackling dummy in 11-on-1 kickoff return drills. Before injuries took their toll the next spring, Brown recalled some good moments too. A few assistant coaches and teammates, including future deputy attorney general Webb Hubbell, began encouraging him, he recalled in Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming.

After leaving the team in 1966, Brown stayed close to the game through intramural sports. It was on the touch football field that he inspired the next black Razorback, Hiram McBeth, to try out for the team in 1969, McBeth said. That same year, Brown was attending UA law when he was shot in the knee while helping plan a protest of the playing of “Dixie” during a home “Game of the Century” between No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Arkansas. U of A student Wendell Griffen, now a judge in Little Rock, drove him to the hospital.

As an attorney, Brown was involved in some high-profile cases. He served as a special prosecutor in the criminal investigations involving the murder of Alice McArthur, wife of Little Rock lawyer Bill McArthur. In the 1990s, he defended Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in the “Whitewater” trial of Tucker and Susan and James McDougal.

Journalist Evin Demirel is the author of African-American Athletes in Arkansas:Muhammad Ali’s Tour, Black Razorbacks & Other Forgotten Stories

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