This is the not widely publicized story, of two former Syracuse University football players, who endured some of the worst kind of racism, at a time when it was allowed and encouraged, as part of mainstream society. Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, was an African-American basketball and football player, who experienced segregation in collegiate level sports, while playing football at Syracuse. Sidat- Singh died tragically, while training as a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen, during the second World War. Marty Glickman was a track and field star in addition to being an All-American football player at Syracuse, and later in life, a very popular sports broadcaster.
Glickman was an elite sprinter, and a member of the 1936 U.S. Summer Olympics team in Berlin, Germany. While in Germany, he practiced as part of the 400 yard relay team. As documented in Wikipedia, the day before the competition, Glickman and teammate Sam Stoller, two American Jews, were replaced on the 4x100 relay team. According to Glickman, the switch was straightforward anti-Semitism. Avery Brundage, chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, was documented as an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler’s leadership,and is alleged to have denied that the Nazis followed anti-Semitic policies. Brundage and assistant U.S. Olympic track coach Dean Cromwell, were members of “America First”, an isolationist political movement that attracted American Nazi sympathizers. Glickman’s friend Jesse Owens, was apologetic and protested the move, even though he was one of the replacements, along with Ralph Metcalfe.
According to Syracuse University documents, which were produced for a ceremony honoring Sidat-Singh, along with his family, and surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, “Sidat-Singh stands among the greatest athletes to ever wear the Orange and as an individual of extraordinary courage, whose example transcends the playing field.”
As detailed in university research, Sidat-Singh led DeWitt High School in the Bronx, to a city basketball championship in 1934. At 6 feet tall and 190 pounds,he received just one scholarship offer, and that was from Syracuse. He led the basketball team to three straight winning seasons, including a 14-0 record in 1938-39, which earned the Orange an unofficial national title. Singh was recruited to the football team in his sophomore year. According to Wikipedia, “Syracuse and Cornell Universities were among the first collegiate football teams to include African American players in the starting backfield “. When games were played in southern segregation states, African American players from northern schools were banned from the field. Due to Sidat-Singh’s light complexion, many assumed he was of Asian descent. A Baltimore newspaper, “The Baltimore Afro American”, revealed his true identity, shortly before a game against the University of Maryland. Sidat-Singh was subsequently banned from the game, which Syracuse lost 13-0. The following autumn, the Terrapins visited Archbold Stadium, the then home of the Orange,where Syracuse pounded Maryland 53-0.
Black athletes were unofficially banned from the NBA and NFL, so Sidat-Singh, according to Wikipedia, played briefly for a” professional barnstorming basketball team in Syracuse”, and then joined the Washington D.C. police. After the United States entered the second World War, Sidat-Singh was accepted as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the only African American unit in the U.S.Army Air Force, and was awarded his pilots wings. He died in 1943 during a training mission when the engine of his airplane failed. He drowned in Lake Huron, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2005, Syracuse University honored Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, retiring his number and hanging his basketball jersey in the rafters of the Carrier Dome.
Sidat Sing’s teammate, Marty Glickman, went on to have a distinguished career as a sports broadcaster, calling games for the New York Knicks (21 years), New York Giants (23 years), New York Jets(11 years ), some New York Rangers broadcasts, as well as pre- and postgame shows for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees for 22 years. In 1996, Glickman’s autobiography was published, “The Fastest Kid On the Block.” In that book, the former college football player and track and field star, revealed the deep regret he felt, at not having boycotted the football game at Maryland ,in which his teammate and roommate had been banned from, because of Jim Crow laws in southern states like Maryland. Glickman recalled being concerned at the time, that he if he were to boycott the game, he might be regarded as a “trouble making Jew”.
Marty Glickman passed away in 2001, due to complications from heart bypass surgery. A few years before his death, he had asked Professor Rick Roosevelt Wright Jr., also of Syracuse University, to keep alive the story of Wilmeth Sidat-Singh’s courage and character. Professor Wright passed the story along to me, and I felt honored to convey this inspiring story in the latenightvampire.com.