Students learn Black History firsthand

Even snow couldn’t cover the Hall of Fame message from Mix and Robinson

Despite wintry weather that has brought record snowfall to Canton in February, many school students and teachers braved the conditions to make the trek to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday and Friday. More than 700 high school students visited the Hall to take part in a special Black History Month seminar that was developed as part of the Hall’s Educational Outreach Program.  An additional 1,500 students from across the United States and Canada participated in the seminar via the Hall’s videoconferencing technology.

This year’s panel included Hall of Fame tackle and AFL Star Ron Mix who was joined by former standout Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson. The duo shared stories ranging from the historic January 1965 boycott of the AFL All-Star Game in New Orleans to those about the philosophy of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi drafting players solely based on talent and not by race. 

Mix was one of the white players who joined African American players in a boycott of the all-star game played after the 1964 AFL season. Black players, who were targets of discrimination in New Orleans, banded together and walked out on the game. Mix promptly supported his teammates and joined the boycott which resulted in the game being moved to Houston on short notice.

Robinson, while at Penn State, became the first African American player ever to compete in the Gator Bowl when he and his Nittany Lions faced Georgia Tech in 1961. It was only after the game that Robinson had learned death threats had been made against him. He was drafted in the first round by the Packers in the 1963 NFL Draft and became one of the first black linebackers in NFL history.

Mix and Robinson engaged the students’ interest immediately with their riveting personal accounts. The players’ presentations prompted a thought-provoking question-and-answer period. Students in the live audience then toured the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Among the groups joining via videoconferencing were classrooms invited through efforts of three NFL teams – the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and New England Patriots. The teams took part by making the broadcast available to schools in their respective cities. The Patriots also sent four former players – Gino Cappelletti, Larry Garron, Roland James and Ed Ellis – to Boston College High School while the Texans had former Houston Oilers cornerback Zeke Moore visit Houston’s Furr High School. The former NFL players watched the broadcasts with the students and shared their personal sentiments about what these pioneers meant to them and to the game of professional football.

Mix and Robinson also were the featured guests at a special event open to the general public on Thursday night at the Hall of Fame.

Complete list of schools that participated in the Hall’s educational seminar this year:

Live Audience (all schools from Ohio)

Alliance High School
Aurora High School
Canton South High School
Copley High School
Crestwood High School (Mantua)
East Canton High School
Glenoak High School (Canton)
Jackson High School (Massillon)
Lincoln West High School (Cleveland)
Multi County Attention Center (Canton)
Malvern High School
Maple Heights High School (Cleveland)
McKinley High School (Canton)
Revere High School (Richfield)
South High School (Cleveland)
Timken Freshman Academy (Canton)
Timken Senior High School (Canton)
Woodridge High School (Peninsula)

Videoconference Audience

Alum Crest (Columbus, OH)
BECON Conference Room (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Boston College High School* (Boston, MA)
Coosa Valley Youth Detention (Anniston, AL)
Coral Glades High School (Coral Springs, FL)
Cuyahoga Valley Career Center (Brecksville, OH)
Furr High School** (Houston, TX)
General McLane High School (Edinboro, PA)
Hollywood Hills High School (Hollywood, FL)
La Vernia High School (La Vernia, TX)
Memorial Junior High School (Lyndhurst, OH)
Nanuet Public Schools (Nanuet, NY)
Pompano Beach High School (Pompano Beach, FL)
Riverdale High School (Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada)
South Plantation High School (Plantation, FL)
St. Agnes Academy (Nashville, TN)
Thomas Carr Howe High School*** (Indianapolis, IN)
Washingtonville Middle School (Washington, NY)

* Connections made possible the New England Patriots
**Connections made possible by the Houston Texans
***Connections made possible by the Indianapolis Colts

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