Eleven standout Grambling State University athletes were inducted in this year’s Grambling Legends Hall of Fame class. Hundreds filled the sold-out induction ceremony to not only support the athletes’ accomplishments, but to also listen to several untold historic stories from the past.
“Wow, what an amazing experience,” said Dr. Willie Larkin, GSU’s president. “The Grambling Legends’ Annual Induction Ceremony is an example of how people can come from humble beginnings and rise to the highest level of success in their sport or field of endeavor.”
This year, the event was held on campus in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center, and guests were invited later to the Black and Gold Room in the Favrot Student Union to listen to music and dance the night away.
Student Government Association President Jonathan Wallace was also in attendance Saturday. The Rayville native said the opportunity was a rare experience for a student-athlete like himself to witness.
“Being in a room with such great athletes and human beings means nothing if you don’t know what they’ve contributed to their sports or university,” said Wallace. “It was exciting to listen to stories that sometimes go untold, and it really makes you appreciate their sacrifice and work they had to put in to brand the Grambling name.”
One in particular was Dr. Alice Jackson, an All-American and All-SWAC track star.
“This has been an amazing journey for me,” Jackson said. “I can recall like it was just yesterday that I was with coach Stevens… I went to Grambling State University on a scholarship. He and I had an agreement.”
When assistant football coach Fred Collins first met Jackson, he was so impressed with her speed that he had convinced the track coach Ed Stevens to give her a track scholarship to Grambling. However, he didn’t have a scholarship to give Jackson at the time. An agreement was made that if she made the track team, Jackson would receive a scholarship, which she did.
Throughout her tenure at Grambling, Jackson excelled in track and even worked her way up to qualify for the 1980 Olympic trials during her senior year. But she did not get her moment on the international stage because that was the year the United States boycotted the Olympic games that were held in Moscow.
However, in 1983 she qualified for the sprint team at the Pan-American Games and helped Team USA bring home two gold medals.
Another touching story was from Charlie Anderson Jr., who accepted the award for his father, Charlie Anderson Sr., who was known as “Sweet Charlie.” The son told the crowd how he didn’t get an opportunity to know his father because he was only 18 months when his father died at the age of 21. However, Grambling provided Anderson Jr. with a book full of articles, pictures and memories to cherish.
Sweet Charlie was a graduate of L.B. Landry High School in New Orleans where he played on the team that won the City Championship in 1969. When he came to Grambling he immediately made an impact on the basketball court. His junior year he averaged 17.8 points per game and in 1970 he was rated as one of the 12 best basketball players in the NAIA.
Other inductees were Willie Armstrong (football), Howard Davis (basketball), Walter Dean (football), J.D. Garrett (football), Clarence Harris (football), Bunny Hudson (baseball), Albany Jones (football), Goldie Sellers (football), and Benjamin Williams (baseball).
Seven years ago, two legendary Grambling and NFL quarterbacks spearheaded an idea that would not only honor athletes but recognize those who made a difference at Grambling State University’s athletic program. Yet, Doug Williams does not hesitate to acknowledge others who helped establish the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame.
“All Shack (James Harris) and I did was talked about it and started calling athletes about it,” said Williams.
All inductees didn’t forget to thank the place that made them somebody, especially Clarence “Bubba” Harris. A Baton Rouge native, Harris was an All-SWAC center (1964-1965) when he was at then Grambling College.
“Even today, as my age goes up and my stamina and strength goes down, I can still move forward from what Grambling put in my head and in my heart.”