BHM: LSU's first black football player, Lora Hinton
BATON ROUGE- It’s almost religious. On Saturdays each fall, devout fans pack Tiger Stadium all to support LSU football, and for more than 125 years, it has been a staple in Louisiana culture.
Players from all over the country join together wearing purple and gold, but it’s only been in the last 50 years that the team has been so multicultural.
The variety of ethnicity, races, and backgrounds on the team all started with Lora Hinton back in 1971.
“This was a big deal and a great opportunity for a country boy like me to come out and have an opportunity to play at this level,” said Hinton. “The only thing they wanted to do was to win football games,” he continued.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, a young quick Lora Hinton was looking for a college where he could play football at the next level, and the growing tiger program was looking to get more wins under Coach Charles McClendon.
Hinton said, “speed was a major factor in all of that.”
He said, “My greatest attribute had the ability to cut and move without breaking my speed.”
Before officially becoming a tiger, the Virginia-native made a visit to campus to reassure his worrying mother that he’d be safe in the deep south, and on that trip he went to a bar with his soon-to-be teammates, Tyler Lafauci, and future All-American Warren Capone.
“They wouldn’t allow me to come in, and of course they players I was with got extremely upset,” he said. “Tyler Lafauci wanted to take the place apart, but I finally convinced them we don’t have to go here,” he recalled.
That moment sealed the deal for Hinton.
He said, “that was the single most important thing that I remembered after I left, and I said these guys were all right. This is where I want to be.”
In 1971, LSU took a big step with two black players on the team, tailback Lora Hinton and cornerback Mikell Williams, which was not quickly embraced by all like at a hotel on a trip to Ole Miss.
“Coach Mac politely told them that if we can’t come in, then the whole team is going to leave, and you know what happened after that, we sat down and had a great meal,” he said.
All of the players and coaches at the time were sure that they were a part of something bigger than just the games.
Hinton said, “we all kind of predicted that, even the coaches, said one day there’s going to be a lot of black athletes at LSU in all sports.”
Years later, he has served the place he loves as a Marshall at Tiger Stadium for more than 20 years.
“I’ve watched some of the fans’ kids, and grandkids grow up, generations of LSU football,” he finished.