CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 12 . . . .February 8, 2008
Danakas provides historical and social context for the racial discrimination faced by African American football players and other professional athletes in the USA. Bernie Custis played well as quarterback in college, but when he was drafted in 1951 into the NFL, he was told that the league was not ready for a black quarterback. Unwilling to settle for a less prestigious position, he made a life-changing decision to emigrate to Canada where racism was not as pronounced. He signed on with the Hamilton Ti-Cats of the Canadian Football League, and in his first season was allowed to play the leadership position that he loved, quarterback.
In the 1960s, a few more African American quarterbacks made their way to Canada and the CFL in order to play the position that was their specialty. In 1972, no American NFL team was willing to draft a black quarterback, not even one who had a perfect record in high school and university football. Chuck Ealey, like Bernie Custis two decades earlier, found new opportunities with the CFL and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He went on to lead his team to victory in the Grey Cup final that year.
Val Ken Lem is a member of the Collection Services Team at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON, and liaison librarian for history, English and Caribbean studies.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.