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Reception book signing for IU football legend George Taliaferro in Merrillville on March 9

The Lakeshore Region and the Neal-Marshall Northwest Indiana chapters of the Indiana University Alumni Association will honor IU graduate and All-American football star George Taliaferro at a reception and book signing on Sunday, March 9, in Merrillville, Ind.

The reception will be from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Celebrity West Ball room of the the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, 800 E. 81st Ave.

Taliaferro helped lead the 1945 IU football team to the only undefeated Big Ten championship in IU football history. Four years later, in 1949, Taliaferro became the first African American drafted by the National Football League when the Chicago Bears expressed their interest in him.

Rather than play for his childhood dream team, Taliaferro opted to honor the contract he had previously signed with the Los Angeles Dons of the All American Football Conference. However, Taliaferro would eventually go on to play in the NFL for teams such as the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Taliaferro earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from IU in 1951. He later served as dean of students at Morgan State University, and as special assistant to the IU president, the IUPUI chancellor and the dean of the School of Social Work. He has had a distinctive career in the field of social work, has fought to overcome discrimination against minorities, and he was a founder of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club.

George Taliaferro

George Taliaferro

Print-Quality Photo

The event will feature remarks by Taliaferro, who grew up in Gary, as well as a short program by Dawn Knight, the author of a 2007 IU Press book on him, Taliaferro -- Breaking Barriers from the NFL Draft to the Ivory Tower. Knight, a 1993 IU graduate who now teaches at Westfield High School, first met Taliaferro as a student in his Introduction to Social Work class at IU, and hadn't known about his storied football career before then. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

For more information, contact Paulette LaFata-Johnson at 219-980-6769 or

The IU Alumni Association is dedicated to serving the university and its diverse alumni, students and friends. As one of the nation's largest alumni organizations, serving more than 500,000 graduates worldwide, the IUAA provides many programs and services to its members, non-member alumni and the university. For information, visit or call 800-824-3044.