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Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Changed Everything

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Date(s) - 10/09/13
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Source Booksellers


It’s an evening for books, football, social change, and play: Literary Detroit is partnering with Source Booksellers to celebrate author Samuel G. Freedman, author of “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football that Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights.”

We’re meeting at a nearby park for football games: touch, flag, 500, pickle… Come one and all! (Stay tuned to the Facebook page for updates on location. And bring an extra football if you can…)

TRIVIA: 7:30pm
Challenge your knowledge of civil rights, the NCAA, Southern colleges, the NFL, and other themes discussed in Breaking the Line at our specially-made trivia game at Source Booksellers! We have terrific prizes for five winners, including tickets to Go Comedy Improv Theater, copies of Freedman’s book Letters to a Young Journalist, and more!

Freedman will read from Breaking the Line (which includes a significant section involving Detroit, by the way). He’ll also discuss the book with the audience, as well as the art of narrative nonfiction more broadly.

“With his beautiful prose style, Sam Freedman frames black history and the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of football. Breaking the Line reads like a novel and offers the reader a deep understanding of how football and black history intersect.” (William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues)

“With campuses and the nation in an uproar over civil rights, two legendary coaches prepared their teams for a football classic. Freedman…memorably revisits an era when, due to still-widespread segregation, black colleges were at their athletic apogee. Tigers’ coach Eddie Robinson and A&M’s Jake Gaither had already sent scores of players to the NFL, but, notwithstanding their distinguished tenures, campus militants harshly criticized both for their public silence on civil rights. Innovative coaches, father figures to countless young men, by 1967, they were marginalized, even ridiculed by a new, impatient generation that knew little of each man’s struggles and achievements. Neither responded directly to the turmoil of the times, but each harbored a private ambition … As he takes us through the season for both teams and recreates their bowl matchup, Freedman mixes in revealing information about the cultures of the schools, their rivalries with other black colleges, sensitive portraits of the coaches and players, and an evocative description of a racial and political climate that Robinson and Gaither, each working quietly, did so much to alter. Much more than just a sports book.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)

“A powerful narrative of two men, two teams and the stirring battle for dignity and honor during a single tumultuous season in the 1960’s South. Freedman masterfully brings to life the burning ambitions, the cleats on scrubgrass and the struggle for victory by these coaches and players not only as black athletes, but as men and as Americans. A riveting story not only of a season but of a country at the crossroads.” (Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns)

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