A Courageous Stand: The Story of the Syracuse 8

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.


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Letter from George W. Fair to Chancellor John Corbally, August 30, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

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.


Resolution Adopted by the Department of Sociology of Syracuse University, September 15, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

Letter from Robert A. Perrine to Chancellor John Corbally, September 24, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

Telegram from Harvey L. Robinson to Chancellor John Corbally, September 24, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

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Letter from Mary Lou Greeson to Chancellor John Corbally, September 28, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

Letter from George H. Lampman to Chancellor John Corbally, December 11, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

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.

Last page of petition signed by white members of the Syracuse University football team, 1970. Ben Schwartzwalder Papers, University Archives.

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.


Letter from M. Wesley Shoemaker, President of the History Graduate Student Organization, to Chancellor John Corbally, September 24, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

Letter from the Student Afro-American Society to Chancellor John Corbally, September 25, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

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Student protest fliers, fall 1970. Syracuse 8 Collection, University Archives.

Photograph of student protest and police response on Crouse Avenue and Marshall Street, September 26, 1970. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives. Photograph by Clint Clemens.

Front page of the Daily Orange, September 29, 1970. Daily Orange Collection, University Archives.

“Blind man’s bluff?” Daily Orange, September 30, 1970. Daily Orange Collection, University Archives.

Memorandum from The Black Student Body to Chancellor John Corbally, with notes by a University administrator, October 22, 1970. Chancellor John Corbally Records, University Archives.

Student protest flier, “Events of Friday Oct. 23,” October 1970. Rosalinda Giuditta Papers, University Archives.

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