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.

About Marian Washington: 

  • Former Kansas women’s basketball coach for 31 seasons, compiling a 560–363 record from 1973-2004.
  • Served as the first Athletics Director for Women’s Athletics under Title IX at the University of Kansas from 1974-79.
  • Washington was the first African-American woman to coach a United States women’s basketball team in international competition.
  • In 1974, after her first season as the women’s head basketball coach, she started the intercollegiate women’s track and field program and served as the head coach its first year.
  • Was one of the first two African-American women to compete internationally, representing the United States at the 1971 World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

2023 Honorees

Angela Aycock

  • Angela Aycock joined the Kansas Women’s Basketball program in 1991 and concluded her career as an All-American who scored 1,978 career points and dished out 292 career assists.
  • Aycock was named team captain in her second year with the program after helping her team become regular season Big Eight Champions in 1992, and in 1993, Aycock was named MVP of the Big Eight Conference Tournament in route to the Jayhawks winning the tournament championship.
  • After a remarkable professional basketball career oversees, in ABL and in WNBA, Aycock’s jersey was retired amongst the greats in Allen Fieldhouse on February 3, 2003.

Halcyon “Tudie” McKnight

  • Halcyon “Tudie” McKnight was a three-time All-American in the long jump for the Kansas Jayhawks.
  • The two-time co-captain won five total conference championships during her time in Lawrence, and her outdoor mark of 6.66m (21 feet 8 inches) and indoor mark 6.23m (20 feet 4 inches) still rank second and fifth respectively in program history.
  • In 1989, the Jamaican native was inducted into the KU Hall of Fame, and in 1995, the Kansas Relays’ long jump was renamed in McKnight’s honor.
  • McKnight continued to compete on the international level following her days at Kansas, and after a career of social work, coaching, professional speaking and authorship, McKnight passed away on October 6, 2023 at 61 years old.

Kelsie Payne

  • Kelsie Payne is one of two women to have her jersey retired inside of Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena.
  • Payne joined the University of Kansas Women’s Volleyball program in 2014, and she concluded her illustrious Jayhawk career as the 2015 Big 12 Player of the Year, two-time AVCA All-America First Team recipient and three-time AVCA All-Midwest Region First Team Member.
  • The all-time kills leader an incredible 1,510 career kills and 351 career blocks. As a sophomore, the Texas native led the Jayhawks to the program’s first ever NCAA Final Four appearance, and as a junior, Payne helped Kansas secure the program’s first ever Big 12 Regular Season title.
  • After Kansas, Payne went on to play professional volleyball in Brazil, Switzerland and South Korea, and Payne currently plays for one of the most competitive Turkish professional teams.

Breonna Barker

  • Breonna Barker joined the Jayhawk Women’s Swim and Dive program in 2015, and by doing so, became the second African-American swimming student-athlete at the University of Kansas.
  • Barker made an immediate impact on the Jayhawk Women’s Swim and Dive program in her freshman season by earning All-Big 12 Honors in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyles.
  • The Oklahoma native was a member of all four 2016 Big 12 Relay teams and contributed to a second-place finish in the 400 medley and the 800 freestyle relays, and a third-place finish in the 400-freestyle relay.
  • After her Jayhawk career, Barker returned to her alma mater Broken Arrow High School to serve as an English teacher and Assistant Swim Coach.

2022 Honorees

Nikki (Wahle) Barrett | Women’s Soccer | 1999-2002

  • Led KU to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2001.
  • Was the first African-American to compete in the sport of soccer at KU.
  • Was named Co-Captain for the 2002 season.
  • Three-time Academic All-Big 12 team member (2000, 2001, 2002).

Tamecka Dixon | Women’s Basketball | 1993-1997

  • Led KU to back-to-back conference championships 1996 (Big Eight) and 1997 Big 12), including an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1996.
  • Was the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1996 and the Big 12 Player of the Year in 1997.
  • Was named an All-American during the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
  • Scored 1,689 career points and 337 career assists and is one of four women with her number retired in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse.
  • Is a member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame.
  • Is a two-time WNBA Champion with the Los Angeles Sparks and a three-time WNBA All-Star.

Ed Harvey | Football/Baseball | 1890-1894

  • Was a three-time letterman between football (1893) and baseball (1890, 1891).
  • Was the first African American to play football and was the first multi-sport athlete of color at KU.
  • After Ed Harvey, there was not another African American student-athlete at KU until 1952.

Maurice King | Men’s Basketball | 1954-1957

  • Helped the Jayhawks to win the regular season Big Seven Championship in 1957, leading KU to finish the 1957 season as the NCAA runner-up.
  • Was the first African American starter for Kansas men’s basketball.
  • Led the Jayhawks in scoring in 1956 and was named Second-Team All-Big Seven in 1957.
  • Was a two-time All-Big Seven team member.
  • Was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the 1957 draft and played for the Kansas City Steers, St. Louis Hawks and Chicago Zephrys.
  • Was an NBA Champion with the 1960 Boston Celtics.
  • Served in the U.S. Army for two years (1957-59).
  • Was on the hiring committees for Larry Brown and Roy Williams.

2021 Honorees

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.

2020 Honorees

John McLendon

  • Was the first African-American to earn a Physical Education degree from the University of Kansas in 1937.
  • Helped integrate the Robinson Gymnasium swimming pool while a student at KU.
  • A two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (enshrined as a contributor in 1979 and as a coach in 2016), he became the first African-American to coach professional basketball (Cleveland Pipers).
  • He was the first African-American to be on a U.S. Olympic coaching staff.
  • Established the John McLendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Program which awards eight $10,000 postgraduate scholarships to minority candidates who are planning to pursue a master’s degree in athletics administration/sport management.

Curtis McClinton

  • A member of the Kansas Football Ring of Honor, Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, and Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame, McClinton was among the first African-American football players at KU.
  • He was drafted by the Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs) of the American Football League (AFL) and later became the first AFL player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.
  • Also a standout on the KU track team, he was the 1960 Big 8 Indoor High Hurdles Champion.
  • Graduated from KU in 1962 before continuing his pursuit of higher education by earning his master’s from Central Michigan, doctorate from Miles College and then pursuing further post-graduate studies at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
  • Served as the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development in Washington D.C.
  • Created the McClinton Development Company in Kansas City which helped build affordable housing.

Stanley Redwine

  • A member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, Redwine was a four-time All-American middle-distance runner at Arkansas (1980-83).
  • Redwine is currently in his 20th season as the head coach of the Kansas men’s and women’s track & field and cross country programs. He became the first African-American men’s track coach in KU History.
  • Over his 20 years at KU, Redwine has coached 12 individual national champions, 76 first team All-Americans and eight Olympians.
  • In 2013, he coached the outdoor women’s team to the first and only women’s team National Championship at KU earning him USTFCCCA Women’s Head Coach of the Year honors.
  • Was a five-time Olympic Trials qualifier in the 800-meter run and two-time U.S. Champion before retiring from competition in 1996.
  • Named a Team USA assistant coach for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.