Civil RightsEducation

Donald “Muggsy” Murray

Donald “Muggsy” Murray was a pioneering African American student-athlete at the University of Maryland in the early 1960s. He was born on January 4, 1941, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the nearby suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Murray was a standout football player at Montgomery Blair High School, where he was named to the All-State team and attracted the attention of college recruiters. However, when he applied to the University of Maryland, he was denied admission because of his race. At the time, the University of Maryland was segregated and had a policy of not admitting African American students.

Murray, along with other African American students, challenged the university’s segregation policies and filed a lawsuit in 1962. Their efforts ultimately led to the desegregation of the university’s athletic programs and the admission of the first African American athletes to compete on Maryland’s teams.

THURGOOD MARSHALL left with his client Donald Murray and attorney Charles Houston in 1936. Working for the NAACP, Marshall won the Murray v. Pearson case for Murray to attend the University of Maryland Law School.

Murray himself became the first African American football player to receive a scholarship to play at the University of Maryland. He played as a running back and defensive back and was known for his speed, agility, and toughness on the field. He was also a member of the track and field team, where he excelled in the 100-yard dash and the long jump.

Despite facing racism and discrimination from some of his teammates and opponents, Murray persevered and became a trailblazer for African American student-athletes at the University of Maryland. He graduated from the university in 1964 with a degree in physical education.

After college, Murray became a teacher and coach in the Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. He coached football, basketball, and track and field at several high schools, and was widely respected for his dedication and leadership. He also served as an assistant principal and principal and was known for his commitment to improving educational opportunities for African American students.

Murray passed away on September 10, 2013, at the age of 72. He is remembered as a pioneering athlete and educator who broke down barriers and inspired generations of African American students and athletes to pursue their dreams.

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