Lane Tech Stadium’s football field is named after Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard, a graduate of Lane Tech High School in 1912, who was the first-ever African American to play in the Rose Bowl.
“As we emerge from this pandemic and the collective coming to terms of our society with the lingering issues of race, equity and access, we can’t think of a better way for the Lane Tech community to come together. and to celebrate a man who first gambled for myrtle and gold. and went on to break new ground at Brown University and many other fields and industries across America,” said Michele Weiner, President of the Lane Tech Alumni Association. “Sharing her story with the community has been a labor of love and a source of pride for the school.”
“We are very grateful to everyone who has brought to our attention the courage and many accomplishments of Fritz Pollard,” said Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Pedro Martinez. “We are thrilled to honor and celebrate this exceptional alumnus, athlete, coach and businessman.”
The alumni association worked with Lane administrators and school system officials to approve the name change and set up a name change ceremony to take place during football season later this year.
“We are thrilled to finally recognize this pioneer in sport, education and racial equity,” said Edwina Thompson, Lane’s director. “Although this moment is long overdue, we are confident that Fritz Pollard’s legacy will continue to inspire generations to strive for greatness.”
Pollard, raised in Rogers Park, became a three-sport star athlete at Lane Tech in baseball, track and football before attending Brown University and playing in the Rose Bowl.
According to published reports, Pollard had problems getting meals served on the cross-country train ride to the bowling game, and he was the target of on-field abuse by opponents while he was playing for Brown, when he would have stood up. quickly after being tackled so players can’t pile up on him.
Pollard also became one of the first African-American professional football players, the first African-American professional quarterback, and the first African-American professional football coach. Pollard was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954 and the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
In addition, Pollard was the founder of the Chicago Black Hawks and Harlem Brown Bombers football teams, published the first black-owned tabloid, The New York Independent News, and founded and operated a talent agency, a music production company, a public relations company, tax services. advisory and investment firm, according to CPS.
As early as the 1990s, various members of the Lane Tech community had suggested honoring Pollard, but it wasn’t until a series of 2019 archival posts on the Alumni Association’s social media page sparked the an elder’s suggestion and gained traction, according to Weiner.
In 2020, the “Indians” symbol was dropped as Lane’s mascot, as the controversy was the subject of an emotional meeting of the local school council in which members voted in favor of the search of a new mascot. It’s unclear when a new mascot will be in place.
Lane is a selective enrollment school located at 2501 W. Addison St.