Duke Slater, NFL's 1st Black lineman, is now Hall of Famer
Slater tackled bigotry head-on, and blocked it, too. He was the NFL’s first African-American lineman, and often the only Black player on the field. After retiring, he broke down more racial barriers to become a Chicago judge.
An All-American at the University of Iowa, Slater created running room in the NFL for such stars as Ernie Nevers and Jim Thorpe, and was chosen All-Pro three times. George Halas called him the Rock of Gibraltar.
He was a 60-minute man and a model of durability despite being a target of rough play. The only game he missed in his 10 NFL seasons, against the Kansas City Blues, was due to a league agreement preventing Blacks from playing in Missouri.
After Slater retired, the league imposed a ban on Blacks that lasted until 1946. He died in 1966 at age 67, and the collective memory of his trailblazing career faded.
He played four years at Iowa and helped the 1921 Hawkeyes finish 7-0, including a victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and coach Knute Rockne that ended their 20-game winning streak. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
Slater made his NFL debut in 1922 with the Rock Island Independents and played with them until 1925, then spent his final five seasons the Chicago Cardinals.
He played all 60 minutes in the Cardinals' annual Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears in 1929, when his blocking helped Nevers score 40 points, a record that still stands.
There was talk among NFL owners in the 1920s of a color ban similar to baseball, and they finally adopted one in 1934. Slater had retired, but he fought the ban by coaching barnstorming Black teams for several seasons.
Slater graduated from Iowa's law school while still in the NFL. He worked as a prosecutor and in the Illinois commerce department, and was elected as a judge.
In 1960, Slater became the first Black judge to serve on the Superior Court of Chicago.
“He was groundbreaking," Dungy said, "in a lot of ways.”https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/nation-world/duke-slater-hall-of-famer/507-6a0d1a8a-f52c-4065-9c5d-e19feb65ba8d?fbclid=IwAR0X4-CJZeWjvYP_rJUdfD2saYXjDhgHrPt9iqOOWnOwJjZiN64rkxApwkI