David Anthony Showell (1921-1955)

(October 14, 1921-December 23, 1955)

David Showell was the son of Thomas Elwood Showell and Adie Showell. Both of his parents were from Maryland. His mother, Adie Showell, died before 1950. His father Thomas was a steward at a club.

In high school at Prospect Park High School, Showell was on the basketball team. As of 1941, he was the only Black player on his team.

He served as a Flight Officer in the 617th Bombardment Squadron, activated in 1943 as one of the four squadrons of the 477th Bombardment Group, the first and only bombardment group in the United States Army Air Forces to include black pilots. Showell was one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

After his service, he returned to Lafayette College and was a key player in the 1949 Sun Bowl controversy. He had begun a year and a half of law school in the Midwest.

The 1949 Sun Bowl controversy refers to the student protests at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, after a Sun Bowl invitation was extended to the Lafayette Leopards football team under the condition that the African American player, David Showell, would not play.

On November 19, 1948, Lafayette College was invited by the Sun Bowl Committee to play against the Texas College of Mines, now the University of Texas at El Paso. Just four days later, on November 23, the Lafayette faculty voted to turn down the bid because the Sun Bowl Committee would not allow Showell to play. This bid rejection led to a large student demonstration on the Lafayette campus and in the city of Easton against segregation.

West Virginia University later accepted the bid after Lafayette’s rejection. The 1949 Sun Bowl was played on January 1, 1949. West Virginia defeated the Texas College of Mines by a score of 21–12.

Unfortunately, Showell died in a car crash in 1955 and is buried in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Goshen, PA. He was only 31 years old.