John Wooten bronze bust unveiled in Carlsbad

John Wooten bronze bust unveiled in Carlsbad

NFL legend and civil rights icon John Wooten attended the unveiling of a bronze bust created in his honor that is now on display at the Halagueno Arts Park in Carlsbad.

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway reports that several hundred people attended the event Friday, Sept. 29, among them the Carlsbad Cavemen varsity football team.

During the ceremony, Wooten expressed gratitude to the community and talked about how desegregation allowed him to play football at Carlsbad High, according to the mayor’s retelling of events. When the school district asked students what they felt about allowing Black students to attend the school, “they stood in unison and said ‘we will have no problem with that,” Wooten recalled.

Wooten, 86, is a former two-time Pro Bowl offensive guard and lifelong Civil Rights trailblazer who played nine NFL seasons beginning in 1959, mostly with the Cleveland Browns. He was the second Black football player at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and one of the first to earn All-American honors as a lineman. During the 60s, he was part of the delegation when Martin Luther King Jr. met with President Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act. He stood alongside fellow elite Black athletes at the Cleveland Summit in support of Muhammad Ali’s opposition to the Vietnam War, and was later a trailblazing front office executive in the NFL. In 2003, he cofounded the Fritz Pollard Alliance to push for equal employment opportunities for people of color in NFL executive and coaching roles.

In the wake of Friday’s unveiling, Mayor Janway gave a special congratulations to Wren Prather-Stroud, Carlsbad’s sculptor laureate, “who did such an excellent job with the bust.”

“Thank you to Cliff Stroud for handling so many of the essential logistics allowing this event to happen. The bust was funded thanks to Robert Jornayvaz III (Intrepid Potash), former Mayor Bob Forrest and Dick Forrest,” the mayor added.

For making Friday’s event special, the mayor additionally thanked Deputy Administrator Wendy Austin, the Carlsbad Veterans Honor Guard, Voncile King, the Rev. R.L. Smith, city employees, and the FAAV committee that works on Halagueno Arts Park.

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