Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium
On Wednesday afternoon, The University of Iowa Athletics Department officially announced the naming of Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium. Duke Slater’s name will be permanently added to the field for the start of the 2021 football season.
The naming has been in discussion since the 1970s when Kinnick-Slater Stadium was proposed. However, the opposition was raised with having a jointly named stadium. After the events of racial injustice and the unifying movements last summer, naming the field after Slater became a real conversation. Today, the State of Iowa’s Board of Regents approved the name change of Historic Kinnick Stadium.
Duke Slater’s Career
Duke Slater played tackle for the Hawks from 1918-1921. He became the first African-American football player at Iowa to win All-American Honors. Slater led the Hawks to an undefeated season and claimed a share of the 1921 National Championship. That year, Iowa upset the mighty Notre Dame Fighting Irish led by legendary head coach Knute Rockne. Rockne had positive comments about Slater following their loss saying, “This fellow Slater just about beat my team single-handed.” Slater was named First Team All-Big Ten and First Team All American following the 1921 season. He joined just two other African-American football players to achieve All-American status in multiple years.
Following his career at Iowa, Slater joined the Rock Island Independents becoming the first African-American lineman in NFL history. He later joined the Chicago Cardinals where he became the first African-American to play for a current NFL franchise (now the Arizona Cardinals). While in the NFL, Slater studied law at Iowa and earned his degree from Iowa’s College of Law in 1928. He went on to become one of Chicago’s first African-American lawyers.
Etched on the Gridiron
Slater’s historic legacy continued. Slater was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1951. He was also the first African-American inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In his time at Iowa, Slater became more than just a successful football player. He paved the way for African-Americans on a football field. Duke Slater took the field for the Iowa Hawkeyes, over 100 years ago. Today, his name will be permanently etched on the gridiron at the new Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium.