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Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins


Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1961--as America crackled with racial tension--the Washington Redskins stood alone as the only professional football team without a black player on its roster. In fact, during the entiretwenty-five-year history of the franchise, no African American had ever played for George Preston Marshall, the Redskins' cantankerous principal owner. With slicked-down white hair and angularfacial features, the nattily attired, sixty-four-year-old NFL team owner already had a well-deserved reputation for flamboyance, showmanship, and erratic behavior. And like other Southern-born segregationists, Marshallstood firm against race-mixing. We'll start signing Negroes, he once boasted, when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites. But that was about tochange.

Opposing Marshall was Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, whose determination that the Redskins--or Paleskins, as he called them--reflect John F.Kennedy's New Frontier ideals led to one of the most high-profile contests to spill beyond the sports pages. Realizing that racial justice and gridiron success had the potential either to dovetail or take an uglyturn, civil rights advocates and sports fans alike anxiously turned their eyes toward the nation's capital. There was always the possibility that Marshall--one of the NFL's most influential anddominating founding fathers--might defy demands from the Kennedy administration to desegregate his lily-white team. When further pressured to desegregate by the press, Marshall remained defiant, declaring that noone, including the White House, could tell him how to run his business.

In Showdown, sports historian Thomas G. Smith captures this striking moment, one that held sweepingimplications not only for one team's racist policy but also for a sharply segregated city and for the nation as a whole. Part sports history, part civil rights story, this compelling and untold narrative servesas a powerful lens onto racism in sport, illustrating how, in microcosm, the fight to desegregate the Redskins was part of a wider struggle against racial injustice in America.

Fromthe Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Beacon Press
Sports & Recreation : Football - General
Smith, Thomas G.
History : United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic
Political Science : Political Freedom & Security - Civil Rig
Publication Date:
September 2011

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
History and Social Science » World History » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Football » General

Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins
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Product details pages Beacon Press - English 9780807000755 Reviews:
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