The Penn Relays will celebrate the 100th anniversary of participation by Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a series of events during this year’s carnival, officials said Thursday.
Carnival director Dave Johnson said Lincoln, Cheyney, and Howard were the first HBCU schools to take the Franklin Field track in 1920.
“Since then, more than a dozen HBCU schools have won Championship of America plaques and their teams have added a special vibrancy to our event for a century,” he said.
The first HBCU relay champion was Xavier of Louisiana in the 440-yard relay in 1942, a team that had Herb Douglas of Pittsburgh as its leadoff man. Now 97, Douglas remains a Penn Relays official.
Johnson said the 1968 Florida A&M 440-yard relay team will be added to the carnival’s Wall of Fame this year. The foursome of Nat James, Major Hazleton, Gene Milton, and Jim Ashcroft is the only group in Penn Relays history to win the same event with the same lineup for three consecutive years.
The Rattlers twice broke the carnival record in the relay, the second time a 40.4-second clocking in 1968.