DENVER – Thirty years before Barack Obama became the first black presidential nominee from a major party, Baltimore’s Curt Anderson was part of a first of his own.
In 1974 and 1975, Anderson, now a state delegate from Baltimore, was one of the “Ten Bears,” the lacrosse team at Morgan State University (then called Morgan State College).
Men’s lacrosse was a varsity sport at Morgan from 1970-1980, making it the only historically black school, before or since, to have an NCAA lacrosse team.
The team played in the NCAA’s Division II. Anderson was a member of the 1975 squad that defeated Washington & Lee, the nation’s top-ranked Division II team which hadn’t lost a regular season game in three years.
Today, the Bears are looked at as an inspirational story. They have been profiled by ESPN and a documentary, “The Morgan Lacrosse Story,” premiered on PBS in April.
Despite the attention they’ve received, Anderson, 58, said he and his teammates were not setting out to do anything culturally significant.
“It was not so much being a trail blazer. We didn’t know we were trail blazers,” he said. “We all wanted to play lacrosse.”
After graduating, Anderson went into television reporting. From 1976-1982, he worked four years at WBAL and three at WMAR in Baltimore.
While at WBAL he once boxed a round with Muhammad Ali. Ali was in town raising money for charity and the station set up the event for a feature story.
“They sent me as the person to spar with him,” said Anderson, who keeps a video of the playful bout on his iPhone. “The fact that you could get in the ring and get this close to Muhammad Ali was just remarkable.”
In 1982, Anderson was fired from WMAR after a labor strike. He received about $70,000 in severance pay and used it to start a new career.
“I used half to go to law school and the other half into a run for the House of Delegates,” he said. “I got accepted to law school and won in the House of Delegates in 1983.”
Anderson represented Maryland’s 44th District from 1983-1995 and returned to the House as the 43rd District representative in 2003. He graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1987 and was admitted to the bar in 1988.
This is his second convention. He was a Bill Clinton delegate in 1992.
Anderson has supported Obama since his run for the U.S. Senate in 2004.
“I flew to Chicago and I campaigned one week during the summer and one week during the general election,” Anderson said. “I’ve worked very hard to get him elected.”