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When Florida Broke The Color Barrier In College Football


If college football,  desegregation and civil rights sound like an unlikely triple option play to you, it certainly didn’t to Samuel G. Freedman.

Freedman has written the book Breaking the Line, which lays out a both tumultuous and triumphant time, when college football became the catalyst for integrating both the sport and the colleges themselves.

The year was 1967, when Florida A&M University and Grambling College of Louisiana played for what was known as the black college championship.

FAMU was led by quarterback Ken Riley; Grambling had James Harris.

But the game was going deeper than just the on-field matchup. Legendary coaches Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither were quietly pushing Tallahassee for the first game between a white Florida college and a black Florida college.

It happened two years later in 1969 -- the University of Tampa against Florida A&M.

That opened the door for black players to make their way onto white college rosters.

And ultimately, the first black quarterbacks to start in the NFL.

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