Kansas Athletics is introducing a new annual series designed to celebrate Black History Month and honor some of the achievements and accomplishments of African Americans who have come through KU.
Officially dubbed The Marian Washington Trailblazer Series, the new endeavor, which will honor four current or former Jayhawks each February — one per week — will tell the stories of the honorees through highlights, interviews and more on KU’s website.
Up first is Washington, the longtime KU women’s basketball coach who won 560 games at Kansas from 1973-2004. Washington also served in an administrative role from 1974-79, further expanding her ability to impact KU’s student-athletes.
She was the first African American woman to coach a United States women’s basketball team in international competition and also helped start the intercollegiate women’s track and field program in 1974, serving as its head coach during the first year of competition.
Washington will also have her contributions celebrated as part of the new Jayhawker Podcast on Feb. 6.
“I’m very excited to be associated with this new KU series,” Washington said in a news release. “I feel that there are so many people of color that have contributed to our great university and it’s wonderful that we’re giving our fan base, alums and community and opportunity to learn more about them. This series will provide a legacy my family will be very proud of.”
Joining Washington in being honored this February are: John McLendon in Week 2, Curtis McClinton in Week 3 and current KU track and field coach Stanley Redwine in Week 4.
A two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (in 1979 as a contributor and in 2016 as a coach), McLendon was the first African American to earn a physical education degree from KU in 1937. McLendon also helped integrate the Robinson Gymnasium swimming pool while he was a student at KU.
McClinton, whose name is in the Kansas Football Ring of Honor, was among the first African American football players at KU.
After graduating from KU in 1962, McClinton was drafted by the Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs) and later became the first AFL player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Redwine, who is currently in his 20th season as the head coach of the KU men’s and women’s track teams, has coached 12 individual national champions, 76 first-team All-Americans and eight Olympians. In 2013, he coached the KU women to their first outdoor national championship.
He recently was named a Team USA coach for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“We are proud to create this new series honoring the trailblazers who were paramount in furthering the African-American student-athlete advancement here at KU and beyond,” KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a news release. “Marian Washington’s impact is evident when you read and hear stories from those she influenced and how it extends far beyond sports. Many young women have benefited greatly from her sacrifices and efforts. She is the definition of a trailblazer and we are pleased to properly name this the Marian Washington Trailblazer Series.”