James Harris
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James Harris: Quarterback who helped black players break through

When James Harris grew up playing high school football in America's segregated Deep South his dream of becoming a professional quarterback seemed like a fantasy.

But in 1967, when Harris starred in the Orange Blossom Classic - a college game between two historically black universities unable to compete in other championships - he began to change what was possible for African American players.

In his book Breaking the Line, author Sam Freedman chronicles the role Harris played in the civil rights movement - and why his playing skills and strength of character ultimately led him to become the first black player to be the starting quarterback for an AFL team.

Orange Blossom Classic footage courtesy of the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Archives

Produced by Jane O'Brien, Colm O'Molloy and Bill McKenna

  • 31 Oct 2013
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