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Blood, Sweat, and TearsJake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football$
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Derrick E. White

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652443

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652443.001.0001

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Championships and Civil Rights

Championships and Civil Rights

(p.101) 5 Championships and Civil Rights
Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Derrick E. White

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores how Black college football and FAMU reckoned with the civil rights movement. Gaither preferred interracial cooperation rather than direct action as a means for racial change. The civil rights movement, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education, and including the bus boycotts of the mid-1950s and the sit-ins of the early 1960s, undermined Gaither’s reputation with activists. Gaither’s opposition to immediate desegregation not only was an attempt to hold on to his powerful football program but also showed an understanding of how integration would perpetuate athletic dominance by predominately white institutions. Gaither’s experiences with structural racism in building Bragg Stadium provided an alternative perspective to the civil rights movement.

Keywords:   Brown v. Board of Education, Tallahassee Bus Boycott, Bragg Stadium, Sit-In Movement, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Integration, Desegregation, Structural racism

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