Black History panel with Gene Washington
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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 has also written for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Voice of San Diego, Chargers.com, Rivals.com, and Gameday Central. He has 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 and USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter 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

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

Purchase Raye of Light from Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com or from August Publishing.

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