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Integrating the Gridiron

Black Civil Rights and American College Football

Lane Demas

Publication Year: 2010

Integrating the Gridiron, devoted to exploring the racial politics of college athletics, examines the history of African Americans on predominantly white college football teams from the nineteenth century through today. Lane Demas compares the acceptance and treatment of black student athletes by presenting compelling case studies of those who integrated teams nationwide, and illuminates race relations in a number of regions, including the South, Midwest, West Coast, and Northeast.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. ix-ix

Several people have commented on this work and offered valuable input—including Merry Ovnick at California State University, Northridge; Albert Broussard at Texas A&M University; James Vlasich at Southern Utah University; and Mark Dyreson at Pennsylvania State University. I also want to thank the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming and the L. Tom Perry ...

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pp. 1-4

Floyd Keith, head of an organization called Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA), considers the lack of African American coaches in college football “an outright disgrace.” For twenty years, the BCA has advocated for minorities within the NCAA coaching ranks, reminding fans of some startling figures. As of 2009, only 3.4 percent (that is, 4 of 119) of the Football Bowl Subdivision (for- ...

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1. Beyond Jackie Robinson: Racial Integration in American College Football and New Directions in Sport History

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pp. 5-27

On 3 December 1898, Harvard’s football team held a banquet to celebrate the end of a dramatic year.1 Having completed an unbeaten season, the squad enjoyed surprise victories over several Ivy League rivals, including the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. The evening’s featured speaker, Theodore Roosevelt, proved to be a boisterous, energetic orator and a huge football fan. ...

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2. "On the Threshold of Broad and Rich Football Pastures": Integrated College Football at UCLA, 1938-1941

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pp. 28-48

On the morning of 9 December 1939, the UCLA football team prepared for the most important game of the year. That day’s contest versus crosstown rival USC marked the end of a tumultuous regular season, the pinnacle college football match-up of 1939, and a game that drew more than 100,000 spectators to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (at that point the largest audience ever to ...

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3. "A Fist That Was Very Much Intentional": Postwar Football in the Midwest and the 1951 Johnny Bright Scandal

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pp. 49-71

After earning National League MVP honors in 1949, Jackie Robinson sent a letter of congratulations to Harold Robinson, a young athlete of no relation who had just made the football team at Kansas State University. “He didn’t know my address, ”recalled the younger Robinson, “so he just sent it to K-State Athletics.”1 Ten years after almost reaching the Rose Bowl, Jackie Robinson congratulated the young...

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4. "We Play Anyone": Deciphering the Racial Politics of Georgia Football and the 1956 Sugar Bowl Controversy

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pp. 72-101

On the night of 2 December 1955, 2,500 hundred students from the Georgia Institute of Technology marched through downtown Atlanta, broke into the Georgia state capitol, and later marched to the Governor’s Mansion, where they congregated on Governor Marvin Griffin’s front lawn. Streaming out of every dorm and fraternity on campus, the crowd carried signs reading “Griffin ...

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5. "Beat the Devil Out of BYU": Football and Black Power in the Mountain West, 1968-1970

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pp. 102-133

"Athletics were a real nemesis to me,” recalled William Carlson, former president of the University of Wyoming. The accomplished D.V.M. and radiology professor took office on 1 January 1968—the same day the school’s football team went to the Sugar Bowl, and excitement surrounding the achievement surged throughout the state. According to his memoir, Carlson recognized the importance of ...

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pp. 134-140

In the forty years since Wyoming students criticized the pressure white society placed on black athletes, college fans have continued to rely on sport to represent their institutions in ways that transcend mere “school spirit.” According to media reports, in 2007 Virginia Tech University turned to football’s “healing power” in the aftermath of one student’s rampage, when he gunned down ...


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pp. 143-168

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 169-174


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pp. 175-180

E-ISBN-13: 9780813549316
E-ISBN-10: 0813549310
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813547411
Print-ISBN-10: 0813547415

Page Count: 194
Illustrations: 10 photographs
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 642200652
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Integrating the Gridiron

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil rights movements -- History.
  • African American athletes -- Social conditions.
  • Racism in sports -- United States.
  • Football -- United States -- History.
  • College sports -- United States -- History.
  • Discrimination in sports -- United States.
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