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July 4th 2018 from Bill Knox- It is July 4th and I am at the Villagio Memory Center with Julius Whittier. Julius has Alzheimers. We are eating Double Cheeseburgers and fries from Jack in the Box. Julius ate every bite and said “Good” and “Thank You” over and over.
I vividly remember watching Julius, at age 18, break the color barrier when he stepped on the football field at the University of Texas in front of 70,000 cheering kids and instantly made America a better place for all of us.
Please take a minute today and say “Thank You Julius.”
God Bless Julius and God Bless America on this special day.
Support from President Johnson, the UT institution, Coaches, Players, friends, and family made Julius years at Texas a great experience.
The research for this article is derived from my experience living with Julius Whittier , an article by Stephen Ross @srr50 dated Nov 14, 2012, a link to the following site http://www.youplusdallas.com/cityblog/sports/2012/11/julius-whittier-darrell-royal-changing-the-face-of-texas-football/#sthash.pTnyiuA9.dpuf and a article written in the New York Times called Changing The Face Of Texas Football
Julius family has asked for privacy related to his health issues so I am going to tell you- as Paul Harvey said - "The rest of the Story' about my roommate, friend, and teammate.
"Julius was a "high thinker"
Julius Whittier was recruited by defensive coordinator Mike Campbell. Julius says of Mike “If you know Mike Campbell, you know that he was not a man of any finesse, except when it came to designing defenses. He said what he meant and meant what he said,” Whittier said. “He convinced me that I would get a fair shot.” Whittier also ask Coach Royal if he would get a chance to start? Everyone gets a chance to start at Texas, but you must earn it. Coach does not “give” anyone a starting position. Julius started his Junior year and was the first black starter in Longhorn football history. Royal said "I knew he could play for us and handle any difficulties off the field."
Julius confesses that breaking a racial barrier was not his primary goal. He says "I was a jock, plain and simple," he said. "I didn't care about civil rights or making a mark. I just wanted to play big-time football."
At the same time, Julius was not naïve about racial issues. He said “I soon found out that there were probably a lot of racists on campus, but there were far more people who gave a damn about you as an individual as opposed to the color of your skin.” He soon learned that UT was not a racial madhouse.
Julius says he never felt pressure as the first black varsity football player at Texas. He said he was too busy wrapped up in the events of each moment, class, workout, dinner, study hall, practice, and friends. He said "I had no real time or hard-drive space in my brain to step back and worry over how potentially ominous it was to become a black member of the University of Texas football team and all of the horrifying things that, from a historical perspective, could happen to black people who dare to accept a role in opening up historically white institutions."
Julius roomed with a another black his freshman year, but by Julius Sophomore year he was the only black on the team, and Coach needed a roommate for Julius. As in all sports, Seniors are the leaders of the team, so Coach Royal decided a senior would help facilitate Julius transition to the varsity. Billy Dale volunteered to room with Whittier. Coach made the right decision. Julius says he never was exposed to any outright racist outbursts from teammates. He did say that he was ostracized from the normal kind of off-the-field gatherings that players were involved in. Billy Dale and Julius Whittier both had a challenging but a productive year together as roommates, but that is another story that will remain untold.
Whittier said he turned two personal flaws into powerful tools of perseverance. He was not only confident to the point of cockiness, but also had a gift for oratory that served him well as a trial lawyer. "I had a mouth that I ran a lot and coherently," he said. "It sounded like I knew what I was saying, and that protected me.
Julius had command of the english language and his keen insight resulting in many of his comments making the news.
In Jimmy Banks book The Darrell Royal Story page 156-159 Jimmy relates a story about an interview written by AP that quotes Julius as saying some unflattering things about UT. After reading the article, Julius visited Coach Royal and said " the interview was a "pressure cooker" and "he (Julius) was really trying to help (UT) but was clumsy." Royal responded "If you were trying to help, you really were clumsy." Eventually, the matter was dropped and Julius continued to remain in the starting lineup. Excluding this incident, Julius and DKR had a close relationship during and after Julius years at Texas.
President Johnson invited Jerry Sisemore, Alan Lowry, Randy Barband, Julius Whittier, and Roosevelt Leaks to his ranch. During lunch President Johnson discussed the LBJ School curriculum with Julius and asked him to consider the school after he graduated from UT. Julius said "that's when I first learned what the LBJ School was all about. I say this earnestly, but the president told me specifically that he would enjoy knowing that I had at least examined the program at the School."
After graduation, he attended the LBJ School as a student.
Julius received 3 degrees. An undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a graduate degree from the LBJ School, and a law degree from Texas. He retired from Dallas District Attorney's Office as a supervisory chief prosecutor in 2014.
AUSTIN, Texas-- December 1, 2010-- LBJ Alum Julius Whitter ('76) , The First African-American To Play Football For The University Of Texas At Austin, Recently Spoke To Current Longhorn Football Players,
Coach Brown invited Julius to speak to his team. Coach said 'We are so honored that Julius would come out and meet with the players," "He's a hero. He's a pioneer. Thank goodness it is a much better world than it was in 1969 because of people like him."
The further his UT playing career receded into the past, the more Julius Whittier appreciated his head coach. “He made a difference in black athletes having access to play football at a top-notch University. There were alumni and regents – I don’t know who they were, but I do know for a fact that there were alumni and regents who did not want black kids on this campus. Coach Royal bucked that. That’s one of the things I admired about him, he was a man who had his own independent image about what was right and wrong.”
Julius went on in the KUT interview to express his deep affection for Coach Royal.
“I had a great time at UT. I got disciplined at the right times because I was into stuff. Being under Coach Royal’s eyeball I needed to watch what the hell I was doing… Coach Royal will be missed. He was a mountain of a man. He had a big view of the world, and I was glad to be a part of his program. I love him.”
These last few quotes are taken directly from the KUT podcast. There is no way to understand the emotional tie Julius Whittier feels for Darrell Royal and the University of Texas by just reading these words on a screen.
Many of the photos in the following article were added by Billy Dale. Please google "Changing the Face of Texas Football" to read the original article.
Changing The Face Of Texas Football New York Times Article
By DEC. 23, 2005
AUSTIN, Tex., Dec. 16 - It was Dec. 6, 1969, and Julius Whittier was stretched before a television in the lobby of the jocks' dorm, Jester Hall, when the euphoria of a heart-stopping victory lifted him, and most University of Texas students, outside onto Guadalupe Street. Texas had just beaten Arkansas, 15-14, in Fayetteville in what had been billed as the Game of the Century.
President Richard M. Nixon appeared in the locker room to declare the undefeated Longhorns as national champions. Whittier was a member of the Texas football team, but as a freshman he was not eligible to play varsity at the time.
He was also the only black football player at Texas. As Whittier pinballed amid the revelers on the main drag here, he had an epiphany, one about the unifying elements within football that he would lean on for years.
"I had never experienced the exhilaration and joy of celebration where I was participating with what looked like millions of other kids my age," Whittier recalled recently at his law office in Dallas. "It did not matter that they were almost all white."
Neither Whittier nor anyone else knew that the time-capsule moment they were celebrating would become an inglorious milestone: the 1969 Longhorns were the last all-white team to win a national college football championship.
When Texas was co-national champion with Nebraska the next year, Whittier was a backup offensive lineman and the Longhorns' first black letterman. He acknowledged that he had endured indignities, but said his life experiences were expanded as much as those of his white teammates.
By playing at Texas, Whittier received advice from former President Lyndon B. Johnson over lunch at his ranch, and learned to love the music of Willie Nelson.
Whittier, however, is intensely interested in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl, the national title matchup between defending champion Southern California and Texas. He is proud that about half of the players on the Longhorns' roster are black, including the star quarterback Vince Young.
"It completes the circle from a team that had no blacks to a truly diverse one, one with a black athlete in the ultimate leadership position -- quarterback -- of the university's most prized institution," Whittier said.
William Henry Lewis was the first black player in major college football at Amherst from 1889 to 1891, then at Harvard from 1892 to 1893, when he was a law student. At the time, both teams played schedules of national prominence, according to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. Bill Willis, a tackle for the 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes, was the first black player on a national championship team.
In the South, however, all-white teams were the norm into the late 1960's as the region was slow to embrace civil rights, especially in something as cherished as college football. Jerry LeVias might have integrated the Southwest Conference in 1966 at Southern Methodist University, but on that December day in 1969 with Nixon in the stands, the top-ranked Longhorns were facing another all-white team in No. 2 Arkansas, a Southwest Conference rival.
"How's that song go?" said Darrell Royal, the Longhorns coach who won three national titles from 1957 to 1976. " 'Things they are a-changing. But they weren't changing that quickly around here at the time."
When Royal arrived here, he was 32 and fresh from head-coaching stints at the University of Washington and with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He had coached black players at both stops.
The University of Texas admitted black students in 1956, but did not lift its ban on their playing varsity sports until 1963. Even then, Royal acknowledged, there was tacit pressure from university regents for him not to rush to integrate the football team.
In 1967, Royal and his staff recruited a local star named Don Baylor, who was also a gifted baseball and basketball player. He grew up in west Austin, knowing that downtown there were separate water fountains for blacks and whites, had integrated his junior high school, and dreamed of breaking the color barrier at Texas.
Baylor wanted to play all three sports, something universities like Stanford, Oklahoma and Texas Western would allow. Royal wanted him to play only football. Baylor would not say that Royal and Texas made a halfhearted attempt to lure him, but he said they were relieved when the Baltimore Orioles drafted him.
"The Southwest Conference and U.T. was not ready to break the color barrier," said Baylor, who had a distinguished 19-year major league career and later managed the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs. "The Orioles took the pressure off Texas."
In the fall of 1968, Royal believed he had found the right young man to integrate his team in Julius Whittier. The previous season, a black student named E. A. Curry walked on and made the freshman team, but he struggled academically and quit. Royal's first black scholarship player in 1968, Leon O'Neal, stayed for only one year.
Royal believed Whittier had the will and the preparation to remain for four years. Whittier had been a star at an integrated high school in San Antonio. His father, Oncy, was a doctor. His mother, Loraine, was a schoolteacher and community activist who had led protests against a local grocery chain that prohibited black women from becoming cashiers.
Whittier said his uncle Edward Sprott was head of the N.A.A.C.P. in Beaumont, Tex., and had not been intimidated when his house was bombed. His older brother, also named Oncy, had his head cracked open by police officers for his involvement in a guerrilla theater troupe that performed pointed skits about prejudice in the streets of San Antonio, Whittier said.
Royal described Whittier as "smart and tough and a heck of a football player."
He added, "I knew he could play for us and handle any difficulties off the field."
Whittier also struggled with attention deficit disorder.
Whittier recognized slights by teammates. He was never invited out drinking or to parties with his teammates. And though racial slurs were never directed at him, Whittier heard them when his fellow Longhorns forgot he was in the room.
Before Whittier's sophomore season, Royal had trouble finding him a roommate. He called in some of his seniors, explained the situation. One of them, running back Billy Dale, volunteered.
One night as the two readied for bed, Whittier engaged Dale in an argument about mortality.
"Billy, I'm never going to die," Whittier told Dale, "and you are."
The longer the exchange went the more frustrated Dale got.
"I crossed the room and put a finger in Julius's eye and said, 'It's people like you who give your race a bad name,' " Dale recalled.
"You think, I'm serious, Billy?" Whittier responded with a smile. "I'm just trying to make you think."
They never exchanged cross words again.
Whittier's had success on and off the field -- he was a three-year letterman and a starter his junior and senior year -- paid immediate dividends for Texas. Roosevelt Leaks came here in 1971 and Earl Campbell in 1974, and they became all-American running backs. Soon, one of the set pieces for prospective players was Johnson's landing by helicopter on the lawn of his presidential library on campus to tell them why they should play for Texas.
Thirty-six years after Whittier watched his white teammates defeat Arkansas, much has changed in the Texas football program. Jester Hall remains, though it is no longer strictly an athletic dorm. Royal has passed away but remains a campus fixture and before his death he expressed regrets that he did not integrate his teams earlier.
Julius Whittier Enters the Hall of Honor in 2013
2013 -Billy Dale, Julius Whittier, and JoEllen Dale
Julius Whittier's contributions to Longhorn traditions represents a portal to the past that reminds Longhorn fans that heritage shapes the present and empowers the future.