It’s common knowledge that Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson are synonymous with sports integration.  Now the NHL’s First Black player, Willie O’Ree is finally being acknowledged for his legendary contribution.

O’Ree, 86, once broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958 with the Boston Bruins. He played 45 games over four seasons, despite being legally blind in one eye.

The road to Sports prominence was once painstakingly paved by the quietly radical and resistant. Using a hockey stick, O’Ree smoothed the turbulent road for many Black hockey enthusiasts to follow.

Because of them, we can.

Earlier this week the Canadian born O’Ree was gifted the highest honor by the Bruins who retired his #22 jersey. If that wasn’t enough, on Wednesday The Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act passed 426-0, recognizing his breaking of hockey’s racial barrier.