MIT Varsity Football Team, 1892

MIT Varsity Football
Courtesy MIT Museum

Varsity Football Team, including William A. Johnson (front row, 3rd from left), 1892. 

MIT Varsity Football Team

MIT was at the forefront of desegregation in collegiate football:

Harvard, a national football power in the 1890s, had one African American, William H. Lewis, who played center. Next door to Harvard, William Arthur Johnson integrated football at MIT in 1890.

Alan H. Levy, Tackling Jim Crow: Racial Segregation in Professional Football, 2003


William A. Johnson

William Arthur Johnson of Newport, RI was the first black student to participate in a varsity athletic team at MIT. Johnson was admitted to the Institute in 1890 with the Class of 1894. He began as a special student in Mining Engineering and Metallurgy (Course III) and Geology (Course XII), but left midway through his junior year, without earning a degree. Johnson's time at MIT overlapped with that of Robert R. Taylor '92, the Institute's first black student on record.

Timeline: 1890s
School: School of EngineeringSchool of Science
Department: Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary SciencesMaterials Science and Engineering
Life: MIT Athletics
Object: Image
Collection: Athletics, Harvard, Roots and Exponents 1875-1920, Students, Technique Yearbook