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27 page transcript of an interview of Wentford Gaines by Jerone Dudley conducted over Zoom for the Black Cultural Center Oral History Project. Gaines was born on February 4, 1953. He attended Tennessee Tech in the spring quarter of 1973. The football coaches recruited Gaines to play football at Tech. Gaines and other Black student athletes were dismissed from the team for refusing to practice after Tennis Coach Larry Ware abandoned David Brents, a Black tennis player in Johnson City, Tennessee. Gaines describes growing up as a Black child in a single-parent household in Anderson, South Carolina; his time attending and playing football at Ferrum College in Virginia; being recruited to Tennessee Tech; the broken promises, racism, and isolation he faced at Tennessee Tech and in Cookeville; and his life after transferring from Tech. Gaines details going to the University of Cincinnati, his time playing in the National Football League (NFL), living in Texas and New Jersey, teaching and coaching in Jersey City, teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, playing athletics in high school, his sons’s athletic and academic experiences. Gaines describes the isolation of being Black in Cookeville, the lack of interaction between non-local Black students and the Black community in Cookeville, and how he only felt comfortable going out to one bar (likely John’s Place) in the area and otherwise went to Nashville to socialize. Dudley makes comparisons between his experiences and Gaines’s experiences in Cookeville. For the audio recording of the interview, see item BCCOH_Gaines_20201127.
Photograph of a Tennessee Tech University football player running and point their left finger upward during a game. The photograph has been edited with a purple tint for a Chamber of Commerce publication.
Photograph of a Tennessee Tech University football player running with the football during a game against Western Kentucky University. The Tech player is wearing a #1 jersey.