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Boyd Childress

football player and labor activist, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the first of nine children born to Jesse and Henrietta Bethea. Bethea grew up poor, with his father finding whatever jobs he could while his mother worked out of the home as a hairdresser. His father, who enforced a strict home environment, did not think much of football as he struggled in a low-paying factory job, but he did leave Elvin his blue-collar work ethic—a trait the son applied to his own life, especially in football. Bethea excelled in football at Trenton Central High School and was offered a football scholarship at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University in Greensboro, where he made All-America as a two way lineman. At North Carolina A & T, Bethea played under the assistant coach Hornsby Howell who pushed him to succeed not only in sports but also in life ...


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 ...


Shana L. Redmond

pianist and composer, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Clark Benjamin Brown, himself the son of a former slave. Little is known of Brown's natural mother, who died when Lawrence was three; from then on, he was raised by his stepmother Cenia Brown.

During his youth Brown took music instruction from the well-respected William Riddick. Exhibiting incredible promise, Brown was sent to Boston to receive further instruction in his primary instrument, piano. In addition to scholarships, Brown financed his education in Boston by working as an elevator operator. In 1916 he made his professional music debut as accompanist for the tenor Sydney Woodward. With this exposure Brown caught the eye of other musicians, including the famed tenor Roland Hayes. Brown and Hayes toured abroad from 1918 to 1923 and received great popular acclaim They had many important engagements including a performance for ...


Pellom McDaniels

football player and businessman, was born in Gainesville, Alabama, one of four children of Wallace Buchanan, a steelworker, and Fannie Mae Buchanan, a bank employee.

At Birmingham's prestigious Arthur Harold (A. H.) Parker Industrial High School, known as the “largest Negro school in the world,” (Carolyn McKinstry interview). Buchanan worked diligently to master his growing physical stature and athletic ability. Reaching six feet five inches in his senior year, Buchanan became a star athlete and was voted captain of both basketball and football teams. For Buchanan, as well as others who attended A. H. Parker from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, the instructors were responsible for providing the students with a sense of race pride and inspired them to achieve beyond the expectations of the outside world.

In addition to the teachers at A H Parker High School Buchanan had several coaches and mentors who influenced ...


Daniel R. Gilbert

football player, was born in New Salem, Pennsylvania, a coal mining district. The names and occupations of his parents cannot be ascertained. He never knew his father, who left the family soon after his son's birth and subsequently died in an accident. His mother moved to Elmira, New York, leaving one-year-old Ernie with his grandparents in nearby Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Ten years later Davis rejoined his mother in Elmira.

Davis's athletic career began at the Elmira Free Academy, where he starred in both basketball and football. He was named a Scholastic Coach magazine high school All-American in both sports in 1957–1958 but was recruited to play football by more than thirty-five schools, including Notre Dame. He chose to go to Syracuse University because of its nearness to Elmira and the intercession of an Elmira attorney and a Syracuse alumnus.

Davis led his freshman football team to an undefeated season in ...


David Borsvold

NFL football player and entrepreneur, was born William Delford Davis in rural Lisbon, Louisiana, to David Davis, a laborer, and Nodie Bell Davis. The family struggled in the poverty of the Depression and Davis's parents instilled in him a strong work ethic. He attended Booker T. Washington High School in Texarkana, Texas, where he played football for coach Nathan Jones. As Davis grew tall and athletic, Jones emphasized that a big, strong man could also be intelligent and could transcend commonly held misconceptions about athletes.

Willie was the first member of his family to go to college, entering Grambling University on a football scholarship and playing for the legendary coach Eddie Robinson Majoring in industrial arts with minors in mathematics and physical education he excelled in both sports and academics serving as team captain and making the dean s list in both his junior and ...


Thomas Aiello

football player and entrepreneur. Melvin Farr was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, the son of Dorothea Farr, a domestic worker, and Miller Farr, a truck driver. There he attended the segregated Hebert High School, where he played baseball and basketball and earned All-State honors in football and track. Farr played at Hebert in the shadow of his older brother Miller, who went on to play collegiate football at Wichita State before a long professional career as a defensive back. Mel's success, however, drove him far from Wichita or Beaumont: he earned a football scholarship to UCLA in 1963 Although Farr remained healthy throughout his high school career he broke his arm the first of many football related injuries during his sophomore year in college Following that injury Farr was an All American running back as a junior and senior gaining 1 630 yards in those ...


Robert Janis

professional football player and businessman, was born in Houston, Texas, one of seven children to Leonard and Gloria Green. Leonard Green was a lab technician for Maxwell House Coffee. He attended Texas A&I (1978–1983), where he played football and ran for the school's track team and recorded the fastest time for the school in the 100 meter dash.

Green was the first round draft choice of the Washington Redskins in the 1983 National Football League (NFL) draft. During his more than twenty years in the NFL, he was regularly recognized as the fastest or one of the fastest players in the game. He was clocked at 44.3 seconds in the 400 yard dash, 20.5 seconds in the 200 meter dash, 10.08 seconds in the 100 meter dash, and 4.15 seconds in the 40 yard dash. In the summer of 2004 at the age of forty ...


Ruth Edmonds Hill

Congregational minister and civil rights advocate, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William and Jennie Harrison, slaves of John Bolton from Savannah, Georgia. His widowed mother, a family servant, was freed in 1821, and they moved to New York City with the Bolton family. Harrison attended school until he was nine years old, at which time his mother sent him to Philadelphia to get away from his alcoholic stepfather and become apprenticed to an uncle who was a shoemaker. His mother later left her husband and also moved to Philadelphia. At the age of seventeen, Harrison attended meetings at the black Second Presbyterian Church and soon joined the church.

Desiring more education, Harrison went to school in the morning and worked in the shoe shop in the afternoon. In 1836 with the help of the American Education Society he attended the Peterboro Manual Labor School founded by ...


Laura M. Calkins

football player, was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, to Paul C. and Mary Howell. Little is known of their early lives, but in the late 1880s Howell's parents decided to leave Louisiana, seeking a new life in the American West. In 1888 the Howell family and their six children (Abner was the only boy) reached Dodge City, Kansas, and then traveled together to Trinidad, Colorado. Under unknown circumstances, the family split up; Paul Howell went ahead by train, reaching Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1888. Mary and the children remained in Colorado until 1890 when they were able to join Paul in Salt Lake City where he had been hired as the city s first black policeman Although Paul and Mary Howell did not join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints LDS which was based in Salt Lake City and commonly known as the ...


Kadeem Johnson

first African American Yale University football captain and corporate executive, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Virginia-born parents, Adaline Hogan Jackson, a house cleaner, and George W. Jackson, a Yale dining hall chef. Not much is known about his childhood, but from his earliest years, Jackson became known for his athleticism and academic achievements.

He joined Hillhouse High School football team after he moved from Branford, Connecticut to New Haven. The Hillhouse football team was 0-7-1 the previous season. In his first year in 1943 he led the team to a perfect 7-0 season and rushed for 272 yards, scoring six touchdowns and adding four extra points in a 52-6 victory over their rival, West Haven. In 1945 Levi Jackson s senior year at Hillhouse the team s record was 7 1 He was selected for the All State team twice He also starred in basketball ...


Michael Adams

professional football player, was born in Clover, Virginia. Information about his parents is unknown. He played football at Maggie Walker High School in Richmond, Virginia, becoming a linebacker during his senior season. After graduating in 1963, Lanier originally planned to attend Virginia State University to study business administration. Yet he decided to seek a more racially tolerant environment farther north and enrolled at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He contacted Morgan State football coach Earl “Papa Bear” Banks about the possibility of playing, but Lanier was told there were no scholarships. Scoring in the top 10 percent of his incoming class on his college entrance exam, Lanier had not expected to be a scholarship athlete. Instead, he acquired a student loan and found a work-study job on campus.

Initially making the team as a walk on Lanier quickly established himself as an outstanding linebacker and eventually received a ...


Jason Philip Miller

professional football player and union organizer, was born in Roosevelt, on New York's Long Island. He was one of seven children, and his father was a minister. He attended Hempstead High School in New York and played football there. After graduation, he attended Syracuse University and played football with the Orange as a tight end from 1960 to 1962.

Mackey was a standout with quick hands and feet. In just two seasons, he racked up 481 yards and six touchdowns. During his junior year, he recorded 321 yards as a tight end, setting what was then a Syracuse record. Mackey graduated in 1963, and in the same year was taken by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the National Football League (NFL) draft. While tight ends function in the modern NFL primarily as short-range receivers, in 1963 NFL teams were just beginning to integrate ...


Elizabeth A. McAllister

track-and-field athlete, professional football player, and sports agent, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the eldest of three children of Harriet and Earl Nehemiah, the latter a bookbinder (his mother's occupation is not known). A wide receiver on his high school football team, Earl Nehemiah instilled in his sons an interest in athletics. At a young age, Renaldo “Skeets” Nehemiah and his younger brother Dion participated in wrestling, boxing, basketball, and karate. Nehemiah's nickname of “Skeets,” a family reference to his scampering around the house as a child, would accompany him throughout his life. In 1973 his mother died of cancer; as the eldest child, he assisted his father in taking care of the house and his two siblings. He ran hurdles in junior high school and later at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School from 1973 to 1977. His track coach, Jean Poquette assisted Nehemiah ...


Adam W. Green

football player, lawyer, and business executive, was born to Lawrence C. Perry, a dentist, and Lillian Bass Perry, a homemaker, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Perry's father set an example for his children with not only professional but also civic success, running a prominent dental practice and serving as a member of the city's board of education.

The youngest of four children, Lowell attended Ypsilanti High School, where he played quarterback on the football team, receiving All-State honors in 1948. After graduating in 1949 Perry attended the University of Michigan his father s alma mater As an ROTC cadet majoring in history with an eye toward law Perry found triumph in athletics running track and playing for the Wolverines football team In his sophomore year Perry played both sides of the ball as offensive end and safety helping Michigan to the Big Ten Championship and a ...


John M. Carroll

football player and coach, was born Frederick Douglass Pollard in Chicago, Illinois, the son of John William Pollard, a barber, and Catherine Amanda Hughes, a seamstress. Pollard grew up in the all-white Rogers Park section of Chicago, where his family was grudgingly accepted. He was nicknamed Fritz by the neighborhood's many German-speaking residents.

Following the example set by his father, who had gained a boxing reputation in the Union army, and by his older brothers and sisters, who were superb high school athletes, Pollard became a standout athlete in football, baseball, and track. During his senior year at Lane Technical High School (1911–1912) he was named to all-Cook County teams in track and football. Despite his small stature (5' 8”, 150 pounds), he used his speed and agility to score touchdowns, establishing himself as one of the Chicago area's best high school football players.

After ...


Michael Ezra

football player, was born in Wichita, Kansas, one of three children of Roger Winfield Sayers, a car polisher and mechanic for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and Bernice Ross. In 1951 the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Roger Sayers's brother lived. But financial difficulties forced the family to move within the city nine times in eight years. By the time Gale entered high school, his parents were suffering from depression and alcohol abuse, and the family lived in poverty. Because they often had no coal for their furnace, Gale and his two brothers would turn on the kitchen's gas oven for nighttime heat, which often caused them to wake up feeling sick.Despite such adversity Sayers thrived while in Omaha because the city gave him opportunities to compete in sports At the Howard Kennedy grade school Sayers led his teams to city titles in baseball ...


Vincent A. Shivers

football Hall of Famer, author, and business executive. Gale Eugene Sayers was born in Wichita, Kansas. In 1951, after the death of Gale's grandfather, the family moved to Nebraska. In Nebraska, Sayers began his career as an athlete, joining the Midget Football League and becoming a standout. At Omaha's Central High School he was an exceptional track-and-field athlete, receiving three gold medals. As a senior he set a statewide record in the long jump. Sayers was named to the All-Midwestern and All-American high school football teams. He signed several letters of intent for football scholarships. Institutions such as Iowa State and Notre Dame were interested in Sayers, but he decided on the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

Sayers earned the nickname the Kansas Comet because of his remarkable skills as a running back While a freshman Sayers struggled with his classes fortunately that same year he ...


Daniel A. Dalrymple

football player, was born Johnny Lee Stallworth in Tuscaloosa Alabama Stallworth grew up in Tuscaloosa playing baseball basketball and football in his neighborhood on a daily basis However Stallworth liked football best and was always upset when football season was over O Donnell Despite his love for the game Stallworth was not initially a gifted athlete because of pigeon toes that plagued him through the fifth sixth and seventh grades He had to practice relentlessly in those pickup games to hone his skills and credits a book he read in ninth grade about a misfit who through perseverance became a hero When he was a freshman at Tuscaloosa High School his biggest influences were the University of Alabama s athletic program and the civil rights movement Attending a high school that had been integrated only three years before his arrival Stallworth described this time as a little scary ...


Angela Bates

professional football player, businessman, and historic preservationist, was the youngest of six children born to Fred and Ora Switzer of Nicodemus, an all African American town in northwestern Kansas. He grew up playing football on the dusty dirt streets of Nicodemus. He liked fishing and hunting and especially helping with farm chores. He attended grade school at Nicodemus until the eighth grade and then attended nearby Bogue High School. While in high school he played on the football and basketball teams and ran track. He lettered each year in all three sports.

Upon graduation in 1950, Switzer entered Kansas State University as one of the first African Americans to receive a football scholarship to the university. While at Kansas State he lettered three years in both football and track and was named to the All Big Seven three years in a row. In 1952 Switzer ...