In Memoriam: Norris Stevenson (1939-2012)

Norris Stevenson, the first African American to receive a football scholarship at the University of Missouri, died earlier this month from colon cancer. He was 72 years old. Stevenson served as a track and field coach for 30 years at Forest Park Community College and Florissant Valley Community College in St. Louis.

Stevenson came to Missouri despite the fact that at that time, the campus was not a welcoming place for African Americans. The band played “Dixie” at football games and a Confederate flag was waved when the football team scored a touchdown.

Stevenson played for Missouri from 1958 to 1960. He was drafted by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys but played for the Edmonton Eskimos and the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League.

A scholarship in his name has been established in Stevenson’s honor and there is a plaza bearing his name at one end of the football stadium on campus.

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