How Bobby Grier Integrated One of College Football’s Biggest Games


The day after a Black woman refused to yield her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, America’s latest battle over civil rights garnered front-page headlines. The news stories capturing the country’s attention in early December 1955 did not concern Rosa Parks, however, but University of Pittsburgh football player Bobby Grier.

The 22-year-old Black fullback with a balky knee was thrust into the national spotlight not because of his football exploits, but the color of his skin. At a time when many  Southern states barred African Americans from attending public universities, officials in segregated New Orleans invited Grier’s team to play Georgia Tech in the 1956 Sugar Bowl.


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