Sun Devil football honors first African-American player Emerson Harvey

ASU commemorates 75th anniversary of Harvey's arrival in Tempe

Arizona State University football will commemorate a milestone this season by honoring former Sun Devil player Emerson Harvey, who became the school's first-ever African-American football student-athlete 75 years ago and played a major role in breaking the color barrier throughout the Southwest.

The Sun Devils will recognize Harvey, who joined the roster in 1937, with black-and-white circular helmet stickers with Harvey’s jersey number (57). Harvey will also be acknowledged during the season opener against Northern Arizona on Aug. 30, where his niece, great-niece, and sister-in-law will be in attendance.

Harvey came to Tempe from Sacramento Community College to study and play football for what was then the Arizona State Teachers College. He quickly earned a spot as a blocking back and a defensive end on Coach Rudy Lavik's team. Harvey achieved nearly a 4.00 grade-point average upon graduating in the fall of 1938, while maintaining his starting position with the Bulldogs. Harvey obtained his degree from ASTC in one-and-a-half years and spent many years as an industrial arts teacher and coach in Phoenix high schools.

"Mr. Harvey serves as a great example of succeeding in the face of adversity on the football field while exemplifying achievement inside the classroom with an A grade-point average," says Kevin Miniefield, who serves as the director of Sun Devil Letterwinners for The Sun Devil Club. "We as a department acknowledge our past and we also respect and honor it.  This will be celebrated as part of our football heritage. This allows not only our football program, but our entire University to celebrate diversity as a strength of our institution. Current players also will benefit from gaining an understanding of who came before them and what they represent."