Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rightsby Samuel G. Freedman
In September 1967, after three years of
1967. Two rival football teams. Two legendary coaches. Two talented quarterbacks. Together they broke the color line, revolutionized college sports, and transformed the NFL. Freedman’s dramatic account, highly praised as a contributing part of the movement and a riveting sports story, is now available in paperback.
In September 1967, after three years of landmark civil rights laws and three months of devastating urban riots, the football season began at Louisiana’s Grambling College and Florida A&M. The teams were led by two extraordinary coaches, Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither, and they featured the best quarterbacks ever at each school, James Harris and Ken Riley.
Breaking the Line brings to life the historic saga of the battle for the 1967 black college championship, culminating in a riveting, excruciatingly close contest. Samuel G. Freedman traces the rise of these four leaders and their teammates as they storm through the season. Together they helped compel the segregated colleges of the South to integrate their teams and redefined who could play quarterback in the NFL, who could be a head coach, and who could run a franchise as general manager.
In Breaking the Line, Freedman brilliantly tells this suspenseful story of character and talent as he takes us from locker room to state capitol, from embattled campus to packed stadium. He captures a pivotal time in American sport and society, filling a missing and crucial chapter in the movement for civil rights.
“When history writes people out, it is our job to write them back in. Samuel G. Freedman has done a marvelous job of that in Breaking the Line, his illuminating account of football and race in the South.”
“Samuel Freedman is one of our most gifted chroniclers of history recent and present. Breaking the Line is as particular in the humanity it portrays as it is important for the conflict it illuminates: an Iliad of college football and social justice.”
“Breaking the Line graphically captures the grim terror of Jim Crow worlds in the South that defined the lives of Jake Gaither and Eddie Robinson during their coaching careers at Florida A&M and Grambling. With his beautiful prose style, Sam Freedman frames black history and the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of football. Breaking the Line reads like a novel and offers the reader a deep understanding of how football and black history intersect.”
- Simon & Schuster
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Meet the Author
Samuel G. Freedman is a columnist for The New York Times and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of six acclaimed books, four of which have been New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Freedman also has written frequently for USA TODAY, New York magazine, Rolling Stone, The Jerusalem Post, Tablet, The Forward, and Salon.com. He lives in Manhattan with his fiance and his children.
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