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On Saturday at 12:30pm, the Hampton Pirates will officially introduce lacrosse into their athletic stable while officially reintroducing the sport BACK into the HBCU sports fold and becoming the first HBCU program to play Division I lacrosse. This event is so monumental that ESPN will be airing the game and many black faces from all over the United States will view their first lacrosse game.

While being the fist HBCU to play D1 lacrosse is a big achievement, it turns out that Morgan State was the first HBCU to field a lacrosse program back in 1971. Wearing discarded football jerseys and wielding makeshift sticks, the Morgan State Bears took the field as a varsity team in 1971 in the midst of the Black Power movement and politicized the sport as they were playing against all-white teams from richer schools.

“Rather than decided to play another black college or university we were playing the white boys and this is an opportunity for us to beat the white boys,” one of the former players said about playing on the team. “To take it to southern aristocracy was a feeling only a black man can appreciate,” another former player stated about beating the top-ranked team in the nation, the Washington and Lee Generals in Virginia in 1975.”

Because of fiscal problems, the Bears played their final game on May 8th, 1981. Today marks HBCU lacrosse’s return and will be the first time an HBCU program plays lacrosse at the Division I level.

Check out this ESPN feature on the Morgan State lacrosse team from the 1970’s and how they crossed social boundaries using the sport of lacrosse during the Black Power Movement.

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