George Taliaferro’s daughters pose in front of the statue. (l-r) Terri Johnson, Donna Taliaferro, Renee Buckner and Linda Harvey. Courtesy photo

There is now a statue at the north gate of Indiana University Memorial Stadium. It was placed there to remind everyone who passes of the greatness of George Taliaferro. The dedication of the statute and of George Taliaferro Plaza was held on November 1. Taliaferro died on October 8, 2018, at the age of 91.

(l-r) Quinn Buckner, Renee Buckner, Terri Johnson, Donna Taliaferro, and IU President Michael McRobbie at the dedication ceremony on November 1. Courtesy photo

At the dedication ceremony, IU President Michael A. McRobbie said, “Throughout his life, not only did George Taliaferro excel as an athlete, but he also overcame the real-world struggles of racism and prejudice, of segregation and oppression. And in the process, he demonstrated courage, determination, and perseverance, and earned a special place in the annals of our state and its flagship public university.

“In George Taliaferro Plaza and its centerpiece statue, every visitor to Indiana Memorial Stadium will be reminded of the enormous contributions George made to IU and to this community, as an outstanding athlete, as a champion of racial equality, as a dedicated educator and administrator, as a tireless community activist, and as a friend and mentor to many.”

While a student at IU in the 1940s, Taliaferro and IU President Herman B Wells played a crucial role in desegregating the IU campus and the city of Bloomington. 

Taliaferro was a three-time All-American who led the unbeaten 1945 Hoosiers Big Ten Championship team. Following the 1948 season, he became the first African American drafted by an NFL team. Taliaferro spent seven years in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl honors three times.

He returned to Bloomington in 1972 and served as special assistant to IU President John Ryan. In that role and other roles on campus, he was an outspoken voice on social justice issues.

At the dedication ceremony, McRobbie presented the IU Bicentennial Medal to Taliaferro’s four daughters—Terri Johnson, Donna Taliaferro, Renee Buckner, and Linda Harvey—and to his wife, former Monroe County Judge Vi Taliaferro, who was not able to attend. His daughters also served as honorary IU team captains at Saturday’s football game against Northwestern.

Other speakers at the event included IU board of trustees member and IU basketball great Quinn Buckner, IU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Fred Glass, head football coach Tom Allen, Senior Associate Athletic Director and former IU football star Anthony Thompson , and senior linebacker Reakwon Jones.

The entire IU football team was in attendance, occupying the first several rows at the ceremony.

The Taliaferro statue was created by artist Brian Hanlon.