Citation

Jim Crow in Michigan’s Big House and the Exclusion of Black Performance

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Abstract:

In 1934, Willis Ward, an African-American football player at the University of Michigan was benched in an intersectional game against Georgia Tech because of his race. Georgia Tech was assigned the blame for Ward’s benching. Georgia Tech was a southern school that had a “Jim Crow” clause—in keeping with the segregationist dictates of the South—that prohibited its all-white squads from competing against teams that featured black players. However, I argue that Georgia Tech did not act solely in engendering Ward’s benching; the University of Michigan was also complicit. Led by famed Athletic Director Fielding Yost, who had his own motivations for desiring Ward to be sidelined, the University scheduled the game a year in advance despite knowing Georgia Tech’s position on the race issue. Thus, Ward’s benching was a part of Michigan’s own Jim Crow tradition.

This paper explores the role Fielding Yost and Michigan played in causing Ward to be benched. I briefly address other incidents in the North to provide evidence that the North, like the South, practiced Jim Crow. Given that a significant portion of the literature probing the history of Jim Crow has been geographically-situated upon the South, this study yields an opportunity to examine Jim Crow’s existence in the North through the interplay of race and sport. I also analyze how racial exclusion restricted the performance of blacks through sport. The aim is to dismantle the widely-held assumption that the North was more racially-tolerant than the South and uncommitted to Jim Crow practices.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

black (172), michigan (138), footbal (80), yost (74), white (73), team (69), player (67), athlet (64), univers (63), play (61), ward (55), would (54), racial (51), game (42), see (41), american (39), behe (38), jim (35), could (35), jewett (34), also (34),
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Association:
Name: 96th Annual Convention
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p522119_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Steward, Tyran. "Jim Crow in Michigan’s Big House and the Exclusion of Black Performance" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA, Oct 04, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p522119_index.html>

APA Citation:

Steward, T. K. , 2011-10-04 "Jim Crow in Michigan’s Big House and the Exclusion of Black Performance" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p522119_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In 1934, Willis Ward, an African-American football player at the University of Michigan was benched in an intersectional game against Georgia Tech because of his race. Georgia Tech was assigned the blame for Ward’s benching. Georgia Tech was a southern school that had a “Jim Crow” clause—in keeping with the segregationist dictates of the South—that prohibited its all-white squads from competing against teams that featured black players. However, I argue that Georgia Tech did not act solely in engendering Ward’s benching; the University of Michigan was also complicit. Led by famed Athletic Director Fielding Yost, who had his own motivations for desiring Ward to be sidelined, the University scheduled the game a year in advance despite knowing Georgia Tech’s position on the race issue. Thus, Ward’s benching was a part of Michigan’s own Jim Crow tradition.

This paper explores the role Fielding Yost and Michigan played in causing Ward to be benched. I briefly address other incidents in the North to provide evidence that the North, like the South, practiced Jim Crow. Given that a significant portion of the literature probing the history of Jim Crow has been geographically-situated upon the South, this study yields an opportunity to examine Jim Crow’s existence in the North through the interplay of race and sport. I also analyze how racial exclusion restricted the performance of blacks through sport. The aim is to dismantle the widely-held assumption that the North was more racially-tolerant than the South and uncommitted to Jim Crow practices.


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