Marian Washington Trailblazer Series

In honor of Black History Month, Kansas Athletics is recognizing the notable achievements and accomplishments of African-Americans who have helped shape the Jayhawk program throughout the years by creating the Marian E. Washington Trailblazer Series. Each February, this new endeavor will chronicle several prominent African-Americans and their impact on Kansas Athletics.


During the month of February, the series will honor one Trailblazer per week detailed below. Each individual being recognized will have highlights featuring their impact at KU as well as interviews from those who interacted with or were influenced by these remarkable individuals.


Gloria Graves

  • Graves broke the Jayhawk Softball color barrier as the first African-American to join the program in 1975.
  • In 1977, Graves earned All-Conference honors while also leading Jayhawk Softball to its first conference championship in program history.
  • Graves and Jayhawk Softball enjoyed three-straight years of top 10 finishes at the AIAW Women’s College World Series.
  • Today, Graves is an accomplished artist and is working on writing a new children’s book.

Adrian Mitchell-Newell

  • Mitchell-Newell was the first Jayhawk to ever record 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
  • Second to only Danny Manny (2,951 career points), Mitchell-Newell is second all-time in career points scored netting 2,124 points.
  • Mitchell-Newell is among four women that have had their jersey retired in Allen Fieldhouse.
  • Drafted by the Chicago Hustle as the #2 pick in the 1979 Women’s Basketball League (now WNBA), Mitchell-Newell went on to earn All-Star and All-Pro honors.

Homer Floyd

  • Arriving to campus shortly after the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, Floyd advocated for the desegregation of Lawrence events with the assistance of Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy.
  • Floyd was named Team Co-Captain of the Jayhawk Football team in 1958, an honor that no other African-American had ever held before him.
  • After KU, Floyd went on to become the Executive Director of the Kansas Commission on Civil Rights where he ultimately developed a close relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

LaVannes Squires

  • Squires broke the Jayhawk Men’s Basketball color barrier as the first African-American to join the varsity program 1952.
  • In Squires’ three years on varsity, Squires helped Jayhawk Basketball to three straight conference championships and the 1952 NCAA Championship title.
  • Squires breaking the color barrier paved the way for icons such as Maurice King, Wilt Chamberlain, Jo Jo White and many others to follow.