George Taliaferro, the first African-American ever drafted by a National Football League team and a lifetime advocate for education, diversity, and community issues, passed away on October 8, 2018. He was 91 years old.
Taliaferro was drafted in the 13th round of the 1949 draft by the Chicago Bears. Although he never ended up playing for the Bears, he played professionally from 1949 to 1955. After retiring from football, Taliaferro began his long career in higher education. He served as dean of students at Morgan State University in Baltimore, as special assistant to the president of Indiana University, as chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and as dean of the School of Social Work at Indiana University.
Taliaferro was recognized many times for his contributions to education and diversity. In 1981, Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was honored with a humanitarian award by the Big Ten Conference. Additionally, the George Taliaferro Sport Association, an organization dedicated to diversity and inclusion in sports, was established on the Indiana University Bloomington campus.
Taliaferro held a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a master’s degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.