LSU’s first Black football player reflects on historic career, breaking barriers
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Some people are just born to become great.
“My dad played in the old Negro Leagues back in Virginia, him and one of my uncles. So, it kind of ran in our family playing football,” said Lora Hinton.
Hinton grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia where he was an All-American running back at Great Bridge High School.
His incredible success on the field in 1971 drew interest from some of the top programs in the country like Notre Dame, Penn State and Purdue.
However, his heart was set somewhere else. That place was LSU.
“I wanted to prove that absolutely I belong here,” said Hinton.
LSU head coach Charles McClendon and former Gov. John McKeithen caught wind of the speedy Hinton and invited him to eat at the Governor’s mansion during his official visit.
Hinton eventually committed and became the first Black football player at LSU.
Hinton was ready to embrace the challenge of crossing the color line, but not everyone was excited. Especially his mother.
”She had problems with it especially after one of the coaches up on the East coast, I won’t mention the school, he made some comments in the media that he thought if I came down that if I came down here that I’d be knifed,” said Hinton.
Hinton ignored the noise, and found himself in Baton Rouge. He said he was embraced by everyone between the players and the coaches, but outside the team it was different. Hinton recalled a recruitment trip at a local restaurant before he committed.
”I said that I would wait and walk in last to make sure everything would be ok and when I got to the door, everything wasn’t ok,” said Hinton.
Hinton let his white teammates go in first, but when he got ready to go in he was stopped and told he couldn’t come in.
Before he knew it, the team jumped in and defended him, and chose to leave the restaurant than leave their teammate behind. Hinton said he committed to LSU in his head at that very moment.
”Right then and there. On the spot. On the spot. I knew I wanted to be with these guys. That was unbelievable,” said Hinton. Hinton finished his Tiger career as a three-year letterman, but he stayed active in the Baton Rouge and LSU community. He became a volunteer coach, worked for several non-profits, became a game marshal, and in 2021 he was inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame.
”If you perform and go out there and show that you’re the best, then it’s going to come to you,” said Hinton. Thanks to his courage, Black athletes can continue to walk in his footsteps.
”What can I say? LSU. You know... I still can’t believe it,” said Hinton.
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