Page 9 of 9 -- Robert E. Lee Strider, whose Southern sympathies once competed with his loyalty to teammate Alexis, went on to become an esteemed president of Colby College in Maine. All-America lacrosse goalie George Hanford became a Harvard dean and president of the College Boards. Glee Club singer R. Bruce Stedman, who once argued that the concert tour should be canceled, went on to become assistant secretary of the United Nations. Dick Snibbe's foray into coaching ended after one year. He became an architect and lives in Maryland.
Athletic director Bill Bingham served Harvard for three decades. After several losing seasons on the gridiron, he was indecorously let go in February 1951. Conant told the press but forgot to inform Bingham. He learned of his firing from a reporter. For a time, he is said to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, recruiting Harvard students. In his later years, he contracted bone cancer. His wife had him taken to the emergency room of a Miami veterans hospital, where he was abandoned on a gurney without identification and admitted as a John Doe. It was days before anyone knew who he was. He died soon after, on September 6, 1971. Only his widow, one of two sons, and a preacher paid to read the 23d Psalm were in attendance when his ashes were laid to rest in a Virginia churchyard. Today, the Bingham Prize is one of Harvard's most coveted athletic awards, though few know anything of the man for whom it is named.
Lucien Alexis would go on to head a New Orleans business school for black students. His two sons, Lucien III and Llewllyn, attended Exeter, though neither went to Harvard. To them he expressed the importance of making friends at least as much as scholarship, a lesson he had perhaps come by the hard way. Decades later, he took them to the field house and showed them the photo of the 1941 lacrosse squad that still hangs on the wall. Alexis was as private as he was independent. He built his home by hand and much of the furniture as well. Like Woodworth, he resented the rudeness and rancor of the 1960s and was convinced that only Southerners could solve the problem of race in the South. Not one to lament the past, he often quoted Omar Khayyam:
The moving finger writes; and having writ, Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a Word of it.
Alexis had two daughters. One, Luchelle Nwakogba, left the United States long ago to live in Nigeria. The other, Lurita Alexis Doan, a graduate of Vassar, is one of America's most successful black businesswomen, founder and owner of New Technology Management Inc., a $100-million-a-year-plus corporation. One of its first contracts was with the US Navy -- the very Navy that would not field a team against her father. As for Lucien Alexis, he died on February 4, 1975, at age 53 and is interred in the family crypt in New Orleans.
Drue King became an internist in Cleveland. He served on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University, became president of the Shaker Heights school board, and helped secure privileges for black doctors in the city's hospitals. Today, at 82, in frail health and in a wheelchair, he speaks with tenderness of both Harvard and his friend Lucky Alexis. He still savors the honor of having been asked to sing his solo, "Sit Down Servant," on graduation day, June 6, 1942, before a class of 800 about to go to war. Among them was Lucien Alexis. It was the last time the two friends would see each other or speak.
Education has remained a centerpiece in the King family: Daughter Judith holds a PhD from Columbia; another, Crystal, graduated from Mount Holyoke, from which their mother, Frances, also graduated, in 1942; a third daughter, Carol, holds a doctorate from Kent State University in Ohio. King's only son, Drue King III, graduated from Harvard in 1969. An outspoken advocate of black power, he published a newspaper called The Rebellion News. Two of King's granddaughters, Chaundra and Gail, also graduated from Harvard, making the King family one of a select few black families to boast three generations of Harvard graduates. Another granddaughter, Deja Lewis, a dean's list student, graduated last year from Duke. She was invited to perform as a pianist, playing Chopin's "Fantasie-Impromptu" at a graduation event, but one reserved for Duke's black students. It was held in the auditorium next to the chapel where her grandfather had been forbidden from singing. But the events of spring 1941 were utterly unknown to her. Grandfather had never spoken of them. History had come so far as to be forgotten.
Ted Gup is the author of The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. A Guggenheim Fellow, he is on leave from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he is a journalism professor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.