More than just a game: the impact of sports on racial segregation in one southern town
The research examines the impact of sports in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly addressing school desegregation during 1965–1971 in Valdosta, Georgia, based on interviews with nine Black football athletes who played for Valdosta High School during that period. The Valdosta High School football team had a tradition of excellence that was recognized throughout the state of Georgia. Valdosta and most of Lowndes County had a clear history of racial violence and bigotry. However, when the community was faced with mandated desegregation of the high school, instead of resorting to violence, the citizens focused on football. The outstanding success of African American football players and the entire time under the leadership of their head coach built a bridge between the White and Black communities. What could have been a period of intense brutality and community upheaval became a time of championships and glory.