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Update 10-2-23 


There were so many wonderful moments during the unveiling of the John Wooten Bronze Bust, which occurred last Friday.  Wooten, both an NFL legend and a civil rights hero, certainly delivered most of them.

With several hundred people in attendance, including the Carlsbad Cavemen varsity football team, Wooten thanked the community for supporting him throughout his life.

“I say openly everywhere that I am blessed,” he said. “I’m not lucky. I’m blessed.”

Wooten talked about Carlsbad’s decision to desegregate its high school, which allowed him to play on the football team. He said the school district went to the students and asked how they felt about Black students attending the school.

“They stood in unison and said ‘we will have no problem with that,’” he reflected.

Wooten also recalled being told at an early age, by his mother, to not ever feel that anyone is better than he is. She also told him that he should not ever feel that he is better than anyone else.

He instructed the Carlsbad Cavemen present to be proud of their jersey, as the team has a strong legacy across the state and the region.

“The day came when I would have the opportunity to be a Carlsbad Caveman,” he reflected. “Know what that means. Know what Coach Bowyer meant when he said ‘we’re going to give you an opportunity to play for our team.’ All of those guys accepted us as equals, and that’s why we’re here today.”

After completing his career in professional football, Wooten devoted decades of his time working on civil rights to make sure other athletes had the same opportunities as him.

“We will always stand for human dignity and respect of all people,” he concluded. “Everybody deserves to be respected.”

The John Wooten bronze bust is on display now at the Halagueno Arts Park.  We would like to give a special congratulations and thank you to Wren Prather-Stroud, Carlsbad’s sculptor laureate, who did such an excellent job with the bust. Thank you to Cliff Stroud for handling so many of the essential logistics allowing this event to happen. The bust was funded thanks to Robert Jornayvaz III (Intrepid Potash), former Mayor Bob Forrest and Dick Forrest.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this event so special, including Deputy Administrator Wendy Austin, the Carlsbad Veterans Honor Guard, Voncile King, and the Rev. R.L. Smith. Thank you as well to all of the City of Carlsbad employees involved in this event, our FAAV committee who works on the Halagueno Arts Park, and the many wonderful members of our community who attended.


Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway

Carlsbad, New Mexico - Official City Website