The Heritage Calendar Celebrates the North Carolina African American Experience.
Asheville native Henry Logan was among a select group of individuals chosen to represent North Carolina in the 2018 Heritage Calendar. Those included represent people from a wide variety of fields, including education, medicine, law, athletics, the performing arts, and community service.
Logan, a former Stephens-Lee High School basketball player, became the first African American collegiate athlete to break the color barrier at a predominantly white institution in the southeastern United States.
Many who witnessed Henry’s skills will attest to the fact that before Michael “Air” Jordan, Henry put the game of basketball on the map with his hang times and exceptional athletic abilities.
His talent was noticed by Bob Terrell, an alumnus of Western Carolina College (now University), located in Cullowhee, NC. Terrell, working as a sports editor for The Asheville Citizen, urged WCU coach Jim Gudger to come see the teenager play. After attending a game at Stephens-Lee, Gudger was impressed enough to offer Logan a full scholarship to Western that fall of 1964.
“I had my reservations about going to Western because I had never been too far away from home,” recalled Henry. “However, what amazed me was the line of students registering for college—and I would be among them. Only one thing I noticed among all those registering, my friend Herbert and I were the only blacks on campus—but we were treated with dignity,” he added.
Still, there was little Henry could do to counter the racism he faced during those years. “I remember in 1965 our WCU team had a game at Louisiana State University. Herbert and I were kept from playing basketball because we were African American. Going to different college campuses brought about different forms of discrimination, from threatening letters to calling us the “n” word,” said Henry.
“At the beginning of our sophomore year Herbert left Western to attend Hampton University in Virginia,” he added. “After Herbert left I was by myself. I didn’t have any friends, so I decided to really perfect my skills in the game of basketball. Basketball was my saving grace.”
Henry packed the house at Western Carolina University, and tickets had to be purchased weeks in advance. He scored 60 points in a game against Atlantic Christian in 1967, and holds the record for most points in a season (1,049), a career (3,290), and highest career points average (30.7). He also led the nation in scoring for the 1967-68 season, when he averaged 36.2 points a game.
Henry shared that, “In basketball during that time, there were no three-point shots, so you had to play aggressively and skillfully. I really didn’t realize that I was a trailblazer until I begin to break basketball records.”
Named an All-American player in each of the four years of his collegiate career, Logan set records that still stand today. He also helped the United States take the gold medal in the 1967 Pan American Games.
Henry was called to play professional ball with the Oakland Oaks in 1968-69, which won the 1969 ABA championship, averaging 12.5 points per game and 13.6 PPG during the playoffs. He stayed with the team for two more seasons, as it relocated to DC as the Washington Caps for 1969-70 and then became the Virginia Squires. His friend Larry (Go-Go) Grant, a basketballer in his own right and fellow Western Carolina alumnus, praises him. “Henry is such a humble individual and has done so much for so many. I’m so blessed to have him as a mentor.”
Asked about how he viewed his life experiences, Henry reflected, “I just want to give God all the credit for the positive experiences in my life. I also want to thank my wife Barbara for sticking by me, and my Christian church family led by Reverend William “Billy” Robertson. Also, my friends Gerald Marlowe, Larry Grant, and attorney Gene Ellison who is like a brother to me. Life has been amazing,” he says.
As has Henry Logan’s own life experience. “The fabric of North Carolina is woven from the experiences, dreams, and accomplishments of many extraordinary people,” said Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T North Carolina. “It is a privilege to help preserve and share the stories of how these people have made a lasting difference in our state.”
Also see: The Basketball Legacy of Henry Logan