Responses from the SU Community
The peaceful protest of the Syracuse 8 brought out strong reactions from the Syracuse University community and beyond. Most responses were very much in support of Coach Schwartzwalder, but pockets of encouragement for the Black student-athletes appeared as well.
Community Reaction to the Syracuse 8
Syracuse University and the Syracuse 8 made the local and national news. Editorials in the local papers mostly backed Schwartzwalder, but student publications such as the Daily Orange tended to support the boycotting student-athletes. Chancellor Corbally received an abundance of letters, from alumni, parents of students, and members of the wider Syracuse community, mostly condemning but some backing the Syracuse 8. National organizations such as the NAACP expressed concern about the student-athletes to Corbally. Some of those who denounced the athletes exposed their own intolerance in their letters, while those who stood by the players were passionate in their calls for a resolution or expressions of their own experiences with racism.
Fair was not the only Black alumnus who had been a Syracuse athlete to write to Chancellor Corbally about his concern for the Syracuse 8. John Brown ‘62 and Vincent Cohen ’57, L ‘60 also wrote to Corbally, and Jim Brown ‘57 visited campus to help the boycotting student-athletes.
Student Reaction to the Syracuse 8
While some students at Syracuse University dismissed the Black athletes’ grievances, many others, especially Black students, expressed support for the Syracuse 8 through their own activism. That fall they held demonstrations and even brought their protests to the Chancellor’s Office. On September 26, they demonstrated in front of Archbold Stadium just before Syracuse’s football home opener against the University of Kansas. Protests remained peaceful until the demonstrators marched down South Crouse Avenue to Marshall Street, where violence broke out and police fired tear gas into the crowds. Students continued their activism that semester, rallying again in October.
Most of the white members of the football team signed the petition. In late August, they held their own counter-demonstration by walking off the field during practice as a show of support for Coach Schwartzwalder.