Nearly 50 years later, Georgia Tech pioneer receives his due


Former Georgia Tech basketball player Harvey Webb, who became the first black player at Tech, was honored at the Yellow Jackets’ Feb. 21 game against N.C. State at McCamish Pavilion. Webb was joined by niece Sakari Balam (left), daughter Fonda Martin and grandson Pierce Martin. (GT Athletics/Danny Karnik)

Harvey Webb was long aware of his minor place in Georgia Tech and state history, but didn’t think much of it. As a freshman at Tech in the 1967-68 academic year, he made the Yellow Jackets freshman team and became the first black Tech student to play for the basketball team.

Growing up, Webb’s daughter Fonda Martin said that it sometimes came up and then the conversation quickly moved on.

“I think that it is definitely in his nature, to kind of brush it under the rug and not really talk about it, because he’s just a modest person,” Martin said.

History has long recognized Karl Binns, who played on the 1971-72 Tech varsity team, as Tech’s first black basketball player. However, in coming to learn of Webb’s place in its history in recent weeks, the school has accorded him honor. So it was that at halftime of the Jackets’ Feb. 21 game against N.C. State, the 67-year-old Webb, a lifelong Atlantan, found himself at center court of McCamish Pavilion. He shared the spotlight with his daughter, niece and grandson, applause from a standing ovation washing down upon him, recognition almost 50 years after the fact.

“It felt good,” Webb said. “I think I told my niece I swolled up for a minute because all I could think of was my mom and how much she would have enjoyed just sharing that moment.”

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