Black History panel with Gene Washington
College Football Share

Black History panel with Gene Washington

Washington joined by Thom Gatewood, John Wooten and Don McPherson

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.

College Football Hall of Fame Black History Month panel with Gene Washington

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:

The case for Duffy Daugherty and the Medal of Freedom

Follow me on Twitter: @shanny4055

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer,, and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."