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

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Abstract

This article seeks to unite a narrative of African American integration in collegiate football with the broader narrative of the Civil Rights Movement. It emphasizes the nebulous history of athletic integration and explores how that process compared to the overall course of civil rights during the twentieth century. Rather than focus on a myriad of schools and regions, it introduces the popular discourse surrounding the largest conflicts over integration in college football. Beyond Jackie Robinson points to four case studies that exemplify how reaction to a game could draw national media attention, transcend sport, and influence the mainstream discourse of race in America. By shifting focus away from the biographies of professional African American sporting figures, Beyond Jackie Robinson contends that collegiate athletic integration was a movement of young student athletes that more closely resembles the broader African American struggle for civil rights in postwar America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675–690
JournalHistory Compass
Volume5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007

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