Happy Wednesday to all reading. I hope you are safe and blessed. Sometimes simple things like shelter food and clothing are some of the simple things we take for granted. But If you can find or have these things when you wake up, then you are richer then you can even imagine ! Today I want to give flowers to my people and display some amazing history. I wanted to give love to a man who set the bar even before Jackie Robinson, and that’s a man named Charles W Follis, who the first Black American to sign a professional football contract.
Follis was born in February 1879 in Cloverdale, VA. His family then moved to Wooster, Ohio where he played and established the football program in the local high school. He became captain and they where undefeated his last 2 years. Instead of playing in college he played with the local Wooster amateur football club where they gave him a nickname “The Black Cyclone from Wooster “ .
In 1904 Follis after securing employment with Shelby Blues through a hardware store, finally signed a deal with the organization. With that contract he became the first black American to sign a professional football deal. Follis actually played on the team with a man named Branch Rickey, who would become the Brooklyn Dodger owner who would sign Jackie Robinson.
Like always, Follis faced horrible discrimination including targeted hits to cause injury, racial slurs hurled from opposing audiences to the point in Toledo the captain of the opposing team had to pause the game and tell them to stop, as well as even not being served after the games at the local taverns. He still persevered through it all and had a great career. He even later was taken out by a career injury where here then went on to play professional baseball.
True trailblazer! True rider. Definition of perseverance.