The first intercollegiate football contest between Black colleges took place on this day in 1892. Biddle College, now Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., and Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., played against one another on Livingstone’s snowy front lawn and gave way to a bowl game that celebrates HBCU football’s excellance.
According to historians of the game, women who worked and studied Livingstone’s industrial department fashioned the teams with uniforms and outfitted street shoes with cleats. The game was not an official contest and players from both sides had to raise funds to get a regulation size football.
The men of Biddle had to study the game of football for two years before mounting the challenge to Livingstone, which formed its team the year of their game. Biddle won the game 5-0. In 1956, an athletic marker was erected at Livingstone in honor of the historic game.
Now in its second year, the Air Force Reserve Celebration bowl pits the champions of the MEAC and SWAC divisions against each other, serving as an extension of the historic implication of Biddle and Livingstone’s game. This year’s game featured Grambling State University and N.C. Central University. Grambling bested N.C. Central 10-9 in a game that was played at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on Dec. 17.