With the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four Championship underway, let’s talk about its historical turning point of how the 1963 Loyola University Ramblers broke racial barriers and changed college basketball forever. The Loyola Project, a film from O’Malley Creadon Productions, highlights how the Ramblers played The Mississippi State University Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament while in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. The documentary is also narrated by Lucas Williamson, the current Guard on the Loyola University Ramblers men’s basketball team.
The 1963 Ramblers featured an unprecedented starting line-up of four Black players—Jerry Harkness, Ron Miller, Les Hunter, and Vic Rouse, with Jack Eagan as the sole white starter. They were an undeniable force to be reckoned with, entering the tournament with a 24-2 record. Although the Governor of Mississippi forbade the Bulldogs from playing integrated teams, the coach and team proceeded to Michigan against his orders to face Loyola.
“The story of the 1963 Ramblers represents a defining moment in history that has helped us get to where we are today,” said Corey McQuade, Co-Executive Producer of The Loyola Project and Managing Partner of Northwestern Mutual – Chicago. “While there’s always work to be done, we are proud to be a part of this conversation and are excited to see how this film will open the doors to new discussions and impactful change.”
Thanks to the efforts of Northwestern Mutual, the film has been screened across the nation in various theaters and on college, PWI, and HBCU, campuses. “We take great pride in supporting The Loyola Project, and countless other endeavors aimed at addressing racial diversity and inequity within the Black community and advancing underserved communities of color, through action, investment, and leadership,” said Ron Adams, Vice President of Field Diversity & Inclusion at Northwestern Mutual.
Tune in for a special one-hour premiere of The Loyola Project this Saturday, April 2, 2022, on CBS at 12 pm CT. The documentary will also be available for streaming on Paramount+.
Contributing writer, Portia King, is a multi-media personality, host, and moderator based in Chicago. Follow her on social media @PortiaKingMedia (IG, Twitter and Facebook).