Matthew Bullock was born in Dabney, North Carolina on September 11, 1881, to Amanda and Jesse Bullock. Both of his parents were born in slavery and could not read or write. At the age of eight, Bullock and his parents moved from North Carolina to Everett, Massachusetts. In 1896, Bullock started school at Everett High School in Everett, Massachusetts. During his high school career Bullock became the first African-American captain on several of Everett High School’s athletic teams.
Bullock played on both the football and track teams. His freshman year, he made the 45 man football roster, becoming the first African American to ever play on the football team at Dartmouth. He did not play in any football games his freshman year, but he placed 2nd in the high jump of the Brown Meet, one of two track and field meets that year. His sophomore year, he started at defensive end on the football team. It was during his sophomore year in which he established himself as one of the best players on the team.
He continued to have success in track as well, securing his first broad jump victory in the 1902 triangular meet. After another successful football season is junior year, his senior year was a bit of a disappointment. In the third game of the year, against a stout Princeton team, Bullock broke his collarbone on the first play from scrimmage. Many scholars and journalists believe that Princeton players targeted bullock because of his race. As a result of this incident, Dartmouth cut athletic ties with Princeton for several years. During Bullock’s three years as a starter, Dartmouth had a record of 24 wins, 4 losses, and 1 tie. Despite his accomplishments on the field, Bullock was never named an All-American, even though many thought he was deserving of this award.
Off the field, Bullock was a member of the glee club and was also selected to become a member of the Palaeopitus Senior Society, which was considered a major achievement and validated his place as a distinguished individual on campus.
After graduating from Dartmouth in 1904, Bullock became the first African American football coach at an integrated college when he accepted the head coaching position at Massachusetts Agricultural College (Now UMASS Amherst). His team achieved a 5-2-1 record in 1904. After the season, he left MAC to attend Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he coached football at nearby Malden High School, most likely as a way to finance his schooling. Bullock received his law degree in 1907 and returned to MAC where he coached two more seasons. He continued his coaching career at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was also a professor of History and Sociology.
After a two-year stint at Morehouse, Bullock moved back to the Boston area and began a successful law practice. In 1927, Governor Alvin Fuller appointed Bullock to the Massachusetts state parole board, on which he went on to serve under 9 different governors. In 1910, Bullock married Katherine Wright. The couple had two children, Matthew Jr. and Julia. In 1971, Dartmouth awarded Bullock an honorary Law degree at commencement. Bullock died a year later in Detroit and was buried in Roxbury, a suburb of Boston, where he resided for many years.