Remembrance: George Taliaferro, NFL's First Black Player
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
When George Taliaferro was a star in the Indiana University Hoosiers football team in the 1940s, he was an all American who led the team to a championship, but he couldn't live in a campus dorm or eat at the school cafeteria. Segregation prevailed across the state, and one night, George Taliaferro went to a local theater and took down a sign that said colored. He died this week at the age of 91. He was the first African-American player drafted to the NFL by the Chicago Bears in 1949, though he chose to play instead for the Los Angeles Dons of a rival conference and went on to be an all-pro player at several positions for several teams. But he recalled that when he played for the Baltimore Colts in 1953, he heard the owner of Washington's football team shout a repulsive, racist phrase at him. George Taliaferro replied with two touchdowns. The Colts won the game. George Taliaferro retired from football in 1955 and went on to become a social worker, then a dean at Morgan State University. An all-American in all ways.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.