Many are familiar with Jackie Robinson and the integration of Major League Baseball after all the years of separate black and white leagues, but fewer people know of the segregation and then integration of the National Football League. The timing and sequence of events were different, but football followed a pattern similar to that of baseball in regard to the beginning and end of racial segregation. This work traces professional football's movement from segregation to integration, beginning with a discussion of the various reasons why the game was segregated to begin with. The schemes that NFL owners came up with to ban African Americans from the league in the 1930s and 1940s, and how these barriers broke down after World War II, are described and the author considers how professional football overcame the legacies of Jim Crow and how Jim Crow laws may still haunt the game.
Longtime sports fan Alan H. Levy is a professor of American history at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Joe McCarthy (2005), Rube Waddell (2000) and several books on American music, including a biography of the noted composer Edward MacDowell.