Sports

Football

What are the contributions of black colleges to the history of football?

Black colleges built powerful teams and played in contests of their own. In 1892 Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University), played Livingstone College, both in North Carolina, in the first recorded black college football game on Thanksgiving day, winning by a 4–0 score. Two years later, Howard University, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), and Atlanta University fielded football teams. In 1929 the Prairie View Bowl, played on January 1, was the first black college football bowl game. It was held in Houston, Texas, and Prairie View lost to Atlanta University by a 6–0 score. The bowl was discontinued in 1961. Among the recent contests in black college football are the Circle City Classic (held in Indianapolis), and the Bayou Classic between Grambling and Southern University (held in New Orleans). By 1949 professional football had begun to notice black college football teams and their star players. In 1949 Paul “Tank” Younger (1928–2001), of Grambling, became the first black professional player from an all-black college; he signed with the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent but was not drafted. He remained there until 1958 and then moved to the Pittsburgh Steelers.



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