Recognizing Michigan State University’s Underground Railroad Movementby Representative David A. Trott
Posted on 2016-01-12
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Mr. TROTT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Michigan State
University's commitment to racial equality in our country through their
integration efforts for sports programs in the 1960s.
In light of the College Football National Championship game last night, I want to take the time to remember another National Title game 50 years ago. In 1966, segregation was widespread in our country. It was a time of great struggle and injustice for African Americans. Michigan State football, however, became a bastion for integration and equality. University President John Hannah and Head Coach Duffy Daugherty had a long history of providing academic and athletic opportunity to African Americans who were denied access in their home states. Daugherty spearheaded a recruitment network throughout southern states that became known as the Underground Railroad Movement. He sought out black players who were not allowed to play in their own states due to their race. His efforts culminated with the 1966 team, which included 20 black players, 11 starters, and was led by one of the only black quarterbacks among major colleges at the time, Jimmy Raye. Raye led the Spartans to win the National Title in 1966, which was a victory for MSU, and a victory for equality across America.
The leadership shown by Michigan State University and the courage of the players marked an important advancement for society. Their actions proved a catalyst for other teams to expand their recruiting profiles, and Americans to expand their perspective. The barriers that were broken in Michigan State's programs marked an important step toward full integration of collegiate sports in 1972. On this 50th anniversary of their National Title win, I commend Michigan State University for their legacy of providing opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race.