Join us at the Brighton District Library for a special screening of the film, "Black and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward, and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game" followed by a discussion with award-winning film producers Brian Kruger and Buddy Moorehouse, Sunday, November 18 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Second grader Genna Urbain will attend the showing. Genna successfully lobbied the Michigan Legislature to make October 20 Willis Ward Day, which is the anniversary of the University of Michigan vs. Georgia Tech football game and the subject of the documentary.
“Black and Blue” tells the story about the only time in history that the University of Michigan held a player out of a game due to his race. In the fall of 1934, Willis Ward, one of college football’s most famous players, wasn’t allowed to play during the Michigan-Georgia Tech game. It was the Jim Crow era and Ward, one of Michigan’s star players, was an African-American. Georgia ech vowed not to play the game if Ward was allowed on the field. U-M athletic director Fielding H. Yost benched Ward that rainy day, banning him not only from the game, but from the stadium too.
Ward’s best friend, roommate, and football teammate was Jerry Ford, a lineman from Grand Rapids. Ford was outraged by the decision and threatened to quit the team. Ford agreed to play only after Ward insisted. U-M went on to win the game 9-2, but the win was marred by outrage and controversy. That controversy shaped Gerald Ford, who became the 38th President of the United States. He saw the humiliation and racism Ward faced that day and those events impacted his views on inequality and Civil Rights. After college, Willis Ward and Gerald Ford maintained a close, life-long friendship.
The documentary includes a never-before-seen interview that Ward recorded in 1976, in which he talks about the Georgia Tech game and his feelings about what happened. What you'll notice in the interview is that Willis Ward is wearing a block "M" lapel pin - the symbol of his alma mater. Ward's friends and relatives will tell you that despite what happened to him in 1934, Ward loved the University of Michigan as much as any Michigan man ever did.
This is an event you won't want to miss. Call the Brighton Library to register 810-229-6571 ext. 227.