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Lightning Lou: Breaking Tackles And Breaking Barriers

Shedding Light On The Struggles Faced By Montgomery, BC's First Black Athlete

Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

“BC found itself in a position to call attention to the severe injustices that were taking place, not just in the south, but pretty much everywhere else in the country as well,” Dullea wrote. “They could have shown that they practiced what they preached in the classroom and the pulpit. But instead they blamed others—the hardened Jim Crow attitudes of southern institutions—rather than ‘manning up’ and doing the right thing.”

Montgomery died in 1994, and was posthumously inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1997. But for Dullea, that was not enough, and he has proposed his own solution.

“I propose the Alumni Stadium be renamed Lou Montgomery Stadium, and further, that a statue of Lightning/Hula Lou be placed right out there in front of it, next to that of Doug Flutie,” Dullea wrote. “And there should be a plaque right there on, or close to the statue, that tells Lou’s story—both the good and the bad parts.”

In the meantime, athletic director Gene DeFilippo has decided to retire Montgomery’s number, 21, during the season-opener on Sept. 1 against Miami.

“It’s a nice gesture, but it’s a little too close to tokenism,’’ Dullea told The Boston Globe in response to the announcement. “The more significant, the more visible the action that BC takes, the better they will look in the eyes of fair-minded people.’’

Reid Oslin, associate director for the Office of News and Public Affairs and former director of media relations for athletics, called Montgomery “one of many weapons” in a loaded BC backfield at the time, and “a pioneer in the sport of college football.” This is the rationale behind retiring Montgomery’s number, which will be just the eighth retired jersey in the history of the program.

In regards to Dullea’s proposal to make it Lou Montgomery Stadium, Oslin said that BC is not considering this because of the meaning behind the name Alumni Stadium. Oslin explained that in 1957, the Eagles needed to find a new home after Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey decided he didn’t want BC to play at Fenway Park any longer because it was tearing up the pristine grass.

The school needed to raise funds quickly for a new stadium on the Chestnut Hill campus. Over the next seven months, alumni came together to raise over $350,000 to go toward building a stadium.

“Football was saved because the alumni contributed,” Oslin said. “The stadium is named after all alumni.”

Oslin noted that America in the 1940s was a “different era,” though he said that was absolutely no excuse for the way Montgomery was treated while at BC.

If you want to learn more about Montgomery and Dullea's campaign to rename Alumni Stadium in honor of Montgomery, you can visit http://www.loumontgomerylegacy.com/

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