Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport . . .
(Conferences / Seminars / Lectures)
Samuel G. Freedman, award winning teacher and writer, will share experiences from his newest book, Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights, which brings to life the historic battle for the 1967 black college football championship between Florida A & M University and Grambling College.
Breaking the Line brings to life the historic battle for the 1967 black college football championship. But the book is about more than a single game, or even about college athletics. Because it was played at a time of great social and educational unrest in the U.S., with challenges to the mission and organization of education at all levels, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the game represents a dramatic moment in our history. Samuel G. Freedman traces the lives, tribulations , and triumphs of pivotal figures at Florida A and M University and Grambling College (now Grambling University): presidents, football coaches, and star players. We watch the season of 1967 unfold against the backdrop of the increasing role of intercollegiate athletics at HBCUs and the changing racial politics of higher education in the South. The story culminates in a riveting game reflecting the considerable social and educational tensions that led up to it. The season of 1967 helped compel the segregated colleges of the South to integrate their teams and redefined who could play quarterback in the NFL, and who could be a head coach. Breaking the Line compels us to think about the impact of athletics on higher education, in the particular circumstances of HBCUs four decades ago and, inevitably, in the conditions of higher education today.
Samuel G. Freedman is an award winning teacher and writer. He is a Professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and the author of several widely admired books on teaching, religion, and American social life. Professor Freedman is now the religion columnist for the New York Times after several years writing its regular education column.
James Harris, now an executive with the Detroit Lions and who was Grambling College's quarterback in the 1967 black college football championship game against Florida A&M, will also participate in the program. He is featured in Breaking the Line.