Thursday, April 12, 2018

How UCLA Helped Break the Color Barrier in College Athletics

How UCLA Helped Break the Color Barrier in College Athletics: Jackie Robinson and Tom Bradley Were Among Sports Stars Who Proved That Integration Made Schools More Competitive

by James W. Johnson, April 12, 2018, Zócalo Public Square

The arrival of five athletes, all African American, on the UCLA campus in the late 1930s would prove to be a moment of destiny, not just for college sports but for the United States itself.

These five men could have been called the original Fabulous Five. And that designation was no exaggeration, because they went on to change the cultures of professional athletics, entertainment, the civil rights movement, and politics.

The athletes who played together in the 1939 school year were:

• Jackie Robinson, who would break the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 and become a prominent advocate of racial equality after his baseball years.

• Kenny Washington, who took down the color barrier of the National Football League when he played for the Los Angeles Rams in 1946.

• Woody Strode, who would join Washington with the Rams and later become an accomplished actor in movies such as Spartacus, Sergeant Rutledge, and The Professionals.

• Ray Bartlett, who would go on to serve on the Pasadena police department (at that time, only the second African American) and as a prominent Los Angeles area civic leader.

• And then there was the fifth, Tom Bradley, who would transform Los Angeles into a global city during his 20 years as mayor. He also would make history as L.A.’s first black mayor, and the first in a major city that had a white majority...

Full story at
*JAMES W. JOHNSON is the author of The Black Bruins: The Remarkable Lives of UCLA’s Jackie Robinson, Woody Strode, Tom Bradley, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett.

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