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One hundred years later, campus again gathers around Campanile to honor Jack Trice

Joseph Dicklin
George Trice, cousin of Jack Trice, gives his remarks for the Closing Ceremony of the Jack Trice 100-Year Commemoration on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.

The football team, President Wendy Wintersteen, Vice President of Student Affairs Toyia Younger, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and more gathered under the Campanile for the closing ceremony of a year-long commemoration marking 100 years since Jack Trice’s death. 

Younger, the chair of the committee that planned the year-long commemoration, called her experience a labor of love and one of the highlights of her professional career. 

“I must say it has truly been one of the highlights of my professional career to uplift the story of a young black man who broke barriers 100 years ago so that other black men, many of whom are sitting here today, could be right here,” Younger said Sunday during the ceremony on Central Campus. 

Sunday’s event, several pieces of art on campus, multiple lectures and more were all efforts by the Jack Trice 100-Year Commemoration Committee to honor the legacy of Iowa State’s first Black student-athlete, who died from injuries sustained during a 1923 football game against the University of Minnesota. 

Trice’s mother, Anna Trice, told former Iowa State University President Raymond A. Pearson shortly after her son’s death that his death would not be in vain if students of color draw inspiration from Trice’s legacy. 

“My charge for all of us today is let’s not let Jack’s death be in vain,” Younger said.

Younger made a call to action to continue to learn from the life of Trice. 

“It is not lost on me that while Iowa State University allowed Jack to play as the first Black athlete, he still wasn’t able to live in the same living quarters or eat in the same restaurants as his teammates,” Younger said. “While his very presence on this campus indeed showed great progress, 100 years later, we still have work to do so that all students feel as though they belong here on campus, regardless of their background or their identities.”

Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Toyia Younger giving her closing Remarks to the crowd at the Jack Trice 100-Year Commemoration Closing Ceremony on Oct. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dicklin)

Jeff Johnson, president and CEO of the Iowa State Alumni Association, said the way the university accepted Trice gives him deeper faith in the university. Johnson said the celebration of Trice’s legacy revealed how steady Iowa State has been toward the university’s mission as a land grant institution to be open to everyone, noting the difficulty of this in a state like Iowa that is predominantly white. 

“But yet, the university, in its own way, admitted Jack, gave Jack an opportunity to play here, to begin to pursue his education, when it very easy could have done what was done with many universities and kind of found reasons or ways to not admit him,” Johnson said. “So I think that it’s given me deeper faith in the university that it was doing what was right even when it was hard.”

George Trice, the executive director of the Jack Trice Legacy Foundation and a relative of Jack Trice, spoke on Jack Trice’s legacy and the values promoted by the foundation: promoting education, doing more than his part and leading a selfless life.

“He was more than just football,” George Trice said. “He was a student-athlete. Football was a part of him; track was a part of him. But he was here to do more than that—animal husbandry, going back down south teaching slaves how to share crop and make money to pay for their families… It wasn’t about him. It was a selfless act.”

George Trice said the commemoration has been great, and he said he wants to “complete the man” and recognize Jack Trice for his efforts on and off the field. 

“The university has been doing great things in Jack’s name,” George Trice said. “There’s a lot more that could be done. Athletics needs to do more outside of just athletics to partner with the university and do some things to honor him in different ways, again, completing the person, student-athlete.”

Jack Trice is now officially a graduate of Iowa State. University officials gave Jack Trice a posthumous degree in animal husbandry during the ceremony, an honor the university started a year ago. 

President Wendy Wintersteen gives the opening remarks at the Jack Trice 100-Year Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dicklin)

Jack Trice studied animal husbandry at Iowa State in hopes of sharing his knowledge with farmers in the south, which speakers at the ceremony called a display of selflessness.

Pearson spoke at a ceremony at the Campanile 100 years ago, hosting about 4,000 attendees, honoring the life of Jack Trice. With the permission of Jack Trice’s family, Pearson read Jack Trice’s “I Will” letter

At Sunday’s ceremony, Wintersteen did the same. 

“Those may be his final words, but they are certainly not the end of Jack Trice’s story. One-hundred years later, Jack’s legacy is more powerful than ever,” Wintersteen said.

Wintersteen said Jack Trice’s story has made a nationwide impact.

“It is heartening to see how the collective efforts of the past year have broadened awareness and appreciation of Jack’s impact not just here in Ames or across Iowa but throughout the country,” Wintersteen said.

Younger said the goal of the committee was to teach people more about Jack Trice as a person, not just as an athlete. 

“It was a very emotional day, all day. Then when I glanced over and I saw the football team walking in, that’s when the tears came,” Younger said. “It was almost like the spirit of Jack kind of entered in. It was just a powerful moment, with the win yesterday of course but also just having a chance to talk to some of those guys on the team. They really understand the story of Jack Trice, and they know that it’s more than just football. That was the goal of the committee all along, was that people would know more about who he was as a person, as a student, as a fraternity member, all those great things.”

Fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha honors Jack Trice’s legacy by performing a ceremonial chant as part of the Jack Trice 100-Year Commemoration Closing Ceremony on Oct. 8, 2023. (Joseph Dicklin)

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the fraternity that Jack Trice was part of during his time at Iowa State, were present at the ceremony. 

Julian Neely, former student body president and chapter president of the alumni chapter Zeta Kappa Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., said Jack Trice was a “phenomenal stakeholder in regards to pushing the mission forward of our fraternity which focuses on developing leaders, promoting academic excellence and also service and advocacy for our communities.”

Gerry Vaughn, a graduate student in management and entrepreneurship and member of the football team, was awarded the Jack Trice Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship serves as a way to support student-athletes, highlight Jack Trices’ story and raise awareness of social justice issues. 

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    Sara K Harris | Oct 9, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Is there a recording of the event?