Breaking the Line
Publication Date: 2013-08-13
1967. Two rival football teams. Two legendary coaches. Two talented quarterbacks. Together they broke the color line, revolutionized college sports, and transformed the NFL. Freedman’s dramatic account, highly praised as a contributing part of the movement and a riveting sports story, is now available in paperback. In September 1967, after three years of landmark civil rights laws and three months of devastating urban riots, the football season began at Louisiana’s Grambling College and Florida A&M. The teams were led by two extraordinary coaches, Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither, and they featured the best quarterbacks ever at each school, James Harris and Ken Riley. Breaking the Line brings to life the historic saga of the battle for the 1967 black college championship, culminating in a riveting, excruciatingly close contest. Samuel G. Freedman traces the rise of these four leaders and their teammates as they storm through the season. Together they helped compel the segregated colleges of the South to integrate their teams and redefined who could play quarterback in the NFL, who could be a head coach, and who could run a franchise as general manager. In Breaking the Line, Freedman brilliantly tells this suspenseful story of character and talent as he takes us from locker room to state capitol, from embattled campus to packed stadium. He captures a pivotal time in American sport and society, filling a missing and crucial chapter in the movement for civil rights.
Publication Date: 2010-09-15
The annual clash in New Orleans between the Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars represents the fiercest and most anticipated in-state football rivalry in Louisiana. The most significant national game to feature historically black colleges and universities is more than a contest; the Bayou Classic is a lavish event, featuring celebrities, a fan festival, and a halftime "Battle of the Bands" that offers an intensity equal to that of the gridiron. In Bayou Classic, Thomas Aiello chronicles the history of the game and explores the two schools' broader significance to Louisiana, to sports, and to the black community. When the Southern University Bushmen football team traveled to Monroe, Louisiana, to play the Tigers of Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute for the first time on Armistice Day, 1932, few realized they were witnessing the birth of a phenomenon. Aiello recounts Southern's early dominance over the smaller, two-year institution; Southern's acceptance into the Southwestern Athletic Conference; Grambling's hiring of the legendary Eddie Robinson, who would lead the Tigers to 408 wins between 1941 and 1997; Grambling's first victory over Southern; and years of alternating home and away games. In 1974, the rivalry found a neutral site in New Orleans -- first at Tulane Stadium and then the Superdome -- and became the "Bayou Classic." An NBC television contract introduced the Bayou Classic to a nationwide audience and completed the transformation of the game into a major event. The Bayou Classic remains the only nationally broadcast game between two historically black schools. Aiello supplements his colorful narrative with period photographs and informative appendices providing game results, statistics, and all-star teams from every year the schools have played. "To appreciate the rivalry," Coach Eddie Robinson once noted, "you have to realize Grambling and Southern fans are close friends, as well as relatives." Bayou Classic offers a splendid history for fans, friends, and those who want to know more about this special game.
Black College Football, 1892-1992
Publication Date: 1997-01-07
In 1892, the men of Biddle University met their counterparts form nearby Livingstone College for a "match game of ball" on a snow-covered field in Salisbury, North Carolina, 23 years after Princeton and Rutgers had inaugurated college football. The Biddle and Livingstone players had no idea they were pioneering the sport for black colleges, yet that's exactly what they did on December 27 of that year. Biddle took a controversial 4-0 decision and football at black colleges was off and running. This book documents the players, coaches, schools, and other entitles which have participated in this rich athletic history which recently celebrated its centennial.