Racial Integration In College Football In The 1950s

1703 words - 7 pages

In the 1950s, America was viewed as one the strongest nations in the World. America established itself as a strong military super power and dominate country in World War II. The effects of World War II carried over in the 1950s, America saw a lot of economic growth, there was an increase in the amount of people who moved to the suburbs, and the baby boom which came about because of the millions of soldiers returning home from military services. Even though this seemed like a happy time, there was still a thick tension in America. This tension was between African-Americans and white Americans. In 1865, the thirteenth amendment was passed which abolished slavery. Even though this occurred, white people still felt that African-American were inferior to them so they treated them accordingly. Society functioned around this principle and as a result, segregation was created. Some of the things that arose from segregation were that blacks were not allowed in certain places, they received an education in old schools that taught from raggedy or out dated textbooks, and they had to move to the back of the bus when a white person needed a seat or wanted a seat in the front. This lead to social reform and a civil rights movement. “There was a feeling of unfulfilled ambitions and expectations among many blacks” (Marble 37). African-Americans wanted an end to segregation and wanted equal rights, equal treatment, and equal opportunities. One of the steps they made into doing this was breaking color barriers. One area of the color barrier in America that African-Americans were starting to break down was the one placed on football. African-American football players in the 1950s had to endure a strong amount of racial discrimination, however their integration onto predominately white college football teams helped lead to desegregation American society.
To begin with, football was far more different than it is played today. For example, “all players were on both offense and defense line-ups. If he came out of the game, he wasn't allowed to return until there were four minutes or less to go in the half” (Amspacher). Today players are substituted in and out of the game almost after every play. Another difference was that football in the 1950s was tougher. There was a less concern about safety. Players didn’t wear as much padding and protection like in football today, and there were not an excessive amount of rules and penalties. The biggest difference was that in the 1950s integrated football teams were rare, especially in the south. In the northern United States, there might have been a few African-American football players that played for predominately white colleges and football teams. But Jim Crow laws prevented this from happening in the south. So for the most part southern college teams only played other southern college teams and northern college teams only played other northern college teams. When an integrated northern team played a southern team they...

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