Ernie Davis becomes first Black to win Heisman Trophy

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On December 6, 1961, Syracuse running back Ernie Davis becomes the first Black player to win the Heisman Trophy—college football’s top individual award—beating  Ohio State fullback Bob Ferguson. Earlier in day, Davis meets with President John Kennedy at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. “I never thought I’d ever be shaking the hand of the President of the United States,” he says.

As a senior in 1961, Davis rushed for 823 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. The previous season, he rushed for 877 yards as Syracuse won the national title. 



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