About the National Archives

Breaking the Line: Sports as a Catalyst for Social Change

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the William McGowan Theater, National Archives Building

Who is the Archivist?

David S. Ferriero

David S. Ferriero The Archivist of the United States is the head of our agency, appointed by the President of the United States.

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Good evening, I'm David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and welcome to the National Archives and the William G. McGowan Theater for tonight's panel discussion, Breaking the Line: Sports as a Catalyst for Social Change.

And a special welcome to those of you joining us over the National Archives UStream channel.

Tonight's program continues our series of programs being presented this year to commemorate the anniversaries of two seminal events in the struggle for freedom, equality and civil rights. They are the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Before we get to tonight's program, I'd like to tell you about two upcoming evening programs.

On Tuesday, October 29, at noon, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," will be here to discuss his latest book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked.  The book examines the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill.  A book signing will follow the program.

And on Wednesday, October 30, at 7 p.m., we will present the ninth annual McGowan Forum on Communications.  This year's topic will be Communicating the Presidency: Presidential Photographers. A panel of veteran Presidential photographers, moderated by Dee Dee Myers, who was White House Press Secretary during President Clinton's first term, will discuss their photographs and their personal recollections of photographing the Presidents.

To find out more about these and all of our exhibits and public programs, please refer to our monthly Calendar of Events. Copies are in the lobby—along with a sign-up sheet to receive the Calendar either by regular mail or e-mail.

Another way to get more involved in the National Archives is to become a member of our Foundation for the National Archives. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby.

During the 1960s, sports played a significant role in the American civil rights movement. In particular, the actions of football coaches and players at historically black colleges and universities led the push for racial equality in sports.

In his book, Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football that Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights, tonight's moderator, Sam Freedman, takes us back to the year 1967.

The book introduces us to two rival college football teams, Grambling College and Florida A&M University; two legendary coaches, Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither; and two star quarterbacks, James Harris and Ken Riley. Author Freedman recalls how these men helped the segregated colleges of the South integrate their teams and redefine who could play quarterback in the NFL, who could be a head coach, and who could run a franchise as a general manager.

Tonight, we are pleased to welcome Sam Freedman, former college and NFL players James Harris and R.C. Gamble, and Michael Hurd, sportswriter and co-founder of the Black College Football Museum. They will discuss the events in the book as well as the larger issue of sports as a catalyst for social change. 

Following tonight's program, the Foundation for the National Archives invites all of you to a cocktail reception and book signing in the Theater lobby.

Sam Freedman is an award-winning author, journalist, and educator.  A columnist for The New York Times and a journalism professor at Columbia University, he is the author of six previous books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Inheritance, the National Book Award finalist Small Victories, and the National Jewish Book Award winner Jew vs. Jew

Now, I'll turn the program over to Sam Freedman. Sam...