Photo: Don McPherson (L-R), Gene Washington, John Wooten and Thom Gatewood
Michigan State College Football Hall of Famer Gene Washington participated on a panel discussion recognizing Black History Month at the College Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 22 at Atlanta. He was joined by College Football Hall of Famers Thom Gatewood of Notre Dame and John Wooten of Colorado. College Football Hall of Famer Don McPherson of Syracuse was the moderator.
Washington was a two-time All-American wide receiver on the Spartans' Underground Railroad teams coached by Duffy Daugherty. Those teams won national championships in 1965, as voted by UPI, and 1966, as named by the National Football Foundation as recipients of the MacArthur Bowl as co-national champions with Notre Dame. The Spartans and Irish played to a 10-10 in the 1966 Game of the Century.
The video begins at the 13-minute mark. Shortly after the 17-minute mark, Washington is introduced as the wrong Gene Washington -- the one that played wide receiver at Stanford from 1966 to 1968. It was an innocent mistake by Atlanta city council member Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was provided incorrect notes.
But to me, this underscores the lack of awareness Duffy Daugherty's Underground Railroad teams led the integration of college football. No school, with the leadership of Daugherty and support of Michigan State president John Hannah, did more for the integration of college football than Michigan State and its Underground Railroad teams.
The case for the above is spelled out in "Raye of Light," my book with Michigan State quarterback Jimmy Raye, the South's first black quarterback to win a national title as the Spartans' starter in 1966.
There are more stories on Michigan State's such as this one on my website:
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