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David F. Smydra

athlete, actor, and activist, was born James Nathaniel Brown on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, to Theresa and Swinton Brown, a onetime boxer, who abandoned Theresa and their son two weeks after his birth. A couple of years later Theresa departed for Long Island, New York, to take a domestic job, leaving Jim to be raised by his great-grandmother and grandmother, the latter an alcoholic. By 1944 Theresa had saved enough money to send for Jim, and they were reunited in Manhasset, Long Island, for the first time in six years. Despite the usual friction of being the new kid—he was once accused by his peers of fighting dirty—Brown eventually distinguished himself athletically. He gained the attention of a local policeman, who lent Brown keys to the high school gym so that the youth could organize Police Boys' Club games whenever he and his friends wanted to play.At Manhasset ...


Julian C. Madison

athlete, actor, civic activist. Jim Brown is generally recognized as the greatest football player and the greatest lacrosse player of all time. At 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 228 pounds, and with a 32-inch waist, Brown combined great speed with a powerful running style and fearsome stiff-arm to terrorize National Football League (NFL) defenders for nine years. The only person in history voted into three halls of fame (college football, college lacrosse, and the NFL), Brown is arguably the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

James Nathaniel Brown was born on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, to Swinton “Sweet Sue” and Theresa Brown Swinton Brown left his family barely two weeks after his son was born and they rarely heard from him afterward When Jim was two his mother left him in the care of his great grandmother and moved to Great Neck Long Island where ...


Joseph Wilson David

The game known in the United States as football evolved into its current form from rugby and soccer (“soccer” is still called “football” in most countries outside North America) in the nineteenth century. The Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) was founded in 1876 to organize this new game. Rules for the precursor to the modern game were developed by the twenty-year-old Walter Camp at Yale University in 1879.

Camp codified innovations begun earlier in the century when William Ebb Ellis playing soccer violated the rule against running with the ball The modern sport of football in the United States is a game that features eleven players on each side of the ball with the team on offense seeking to move the ball ten yards on each play or down which begins with the snap of the ball Failing to gain ten yards in four downs means turning the ball ...


Alonford James Robinson

American professional football originated in 1869 from a combination of two internationally popular games, rugby and soccer. During the early years of professional football, African Americans were banned from teams in the country's premier league, the National Football League (NFL). Today, African Americans dominate the sport on the playing field, but have yet to be sufficiently represented in the ranks of coaches and managers.

The first known African American to play professional football was running back Charles Follis, who signed with the Shelby Athletic Club of Shelby, Ohio, in 1902. Professional football moved toward full racial integration in intermittent waves. For thirty-one years the playing field was integrated, although in a limited way, with a relatively small number of black players. Then, in 1933, the NFL banned African American athletes entirely. When the NFL was reintegrated in 1946 black players made an immediate impact upon the ...


Anthony Aiello

Chicago Bears running back, Hall of Fame football player, and Super Bowl champion. Considered by many to be the greatest running back, and arguably the best all-around player, in the history of the National Football League (NFL), Walter Payton was born in Columbia, Mississippi, in what had been in the early part of the twentieth century a logging boom town. By the time Payton was born, however, the Pearl River, upon which the logging industry depended for shipping, had silted up, and prosperity and jobs left with the barges that could no longer ply the waterway. Payton's parents, Edward and Alyne had three children of whom Walter was the youngest The eldest Eddie was also an athlete he followed his brother into the NFL three years after Walter was recruited by the Bears The next child in the family was a daughter Pam Edward Payton worked at the local ...


Michelle S. Hite

football player. Jerry Lee Rice was the sixth of eight children of Joe Rice and Eddie B. Rice. Growing up in Crawford, Mississippi, Rice picked cotton, bailed hay, and picked corn to help the family earn money. He also helped his father, a bricklayer, in his work. The physical demands of manual labor and agricultural work did not deter Rice from exerting himself as he continued to run for miles after work simply for pleasure. When he began playing football during his sophomore year in high school, he ran the ten miles between B. L. Moor High School and his home.

Rice s work ethic combined with his eagerness to learn the game his size and his agility to distinguish him as a standout high school football player He graduated with all state honors as a receiver and a defensive back Though attending a small high school prompted ...


Paul Finkelman

athlete, actor, singer, civil rights activist, and Communist sympathizer. Paul Leroy Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the youngest of five children. In 2004 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp for Paul Robeson. The press release issued by the Post Office recounted his career as an All-American college athlete, a film star, and an internationally acclaimed singer. The release also noted his fearless opposition to racism, describing him as

well known as an activist and an outspoken participant in labor and peace movements [whose] public appearances were infused with his strong political beliefs, especially his principled stand against racism in the U.S. and around the world. He was opposed to colonialism in Africa and worked to assist and support African liberation Movements. Alarmed by the spread of fascism in Europe, Robeson was also a prominent supporter of the Allied war effort during World War II.

The ...