Daily Updates

August 30, 2013

Must-see documentary tells story of Ala. sports in Civil Rights era

If your interests lean toward American history and college sports, a recently released documentary about the Civil Rights era in Alabama and the vaunted Crimson Tide football program is a must-see.

Paul Finebaum, the noted Southern author and sports commentator, had this to say about “Three Days at Foster,” a reference to the name of an auditorium on the Alabama campus.

“Simply an unforgettable film . . . (writer-director) Keith Dunnavant has taken one of the seminal moments in the Civil Rights movement and peeled off a new layer that is both haunting and gut-wrenching,” the new ESPN sports figure wrote.

There are many levels to the piece, but in the end it tells the story of the clash between Gov. George Wallace’s segregationist beliefs, ones shared by many in the Deep South, and sweeping changes affecting college football and Alabama’s love for the Crimson Tide. The passions of race and rivalries were on a collision course where there would be no easy resolution to an accepted way of life in the Heart of Dixie.

Football teams across the land had begun recruiting black athletes to their teams, but in Wallace’s state, the governor was hard at work keeping black students out of classrooms on the Tuscaloosa campus. The showdown came on June 11, 1963, when Wallace blocked two black students from enrolling for classes at Foster Auditorium until federal troops cleared a way to a registration table inside the gym.

That historical event also turned out to be a triggering moment for the integration of the University of Alabama sports programs and furthered a change in the land’s social, political and cultural fabric that to this day is both amazing as well as revolutionary.

Much of Dunnavant’s work deals with legendary Alabama coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant and the earliest black players, many of whom were mere footnotes in history, and how they came to join the once all-white team. They weren’t the famous All-Americans that would wear the crimson jersey in years to come, but guys who liked the game and didn’t see why the color of their skin should disqualify them. There was Dock Rone and Andrew Pernell and Arthur Dunning -- maybe not huge physical specimens by today’s standards, but gritty athletes who could play.

Text Only
Daily Updates
  • 10 Things to Know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

    April 20, 2014

  • In Other News, April 20

    April 20, 2014

  • Ukraine, Russia trade blame for shootout in east

    Within hours of an Easter morning shootout at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement blaming militant Ukrainian nationalists and Russian state television stations aired pictures of supposed proof of their involvement in the attack that left at least three people dead.

    April 20, 2014

  • In West Bank, teen offenders face different fates

    The boys were both 15, with the crackly voices and awkward peach fuzz of adolescence. They lived just a few minutes away from one another in the West Bank. And both were accused of throwing stones at vehicles, one day after the other.

    April 20, 2014

  • Study: Fuels from corn waste not better than gas

    Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

    April 20, 2014

  • Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom

    After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction trade workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they’re now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale oil and gas boom.

    April 20, 2014

  • In Colorado, a pot holiday tries to go mainstream

    Once the province of activists and stoners, the traditional pot holiday of April 20 has gone mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 20, 2014

  • ‘Capt. America’ tops box office for third week

    Captain America continues to vanquish box office foes, triumphing in ticket sales for the third consecutive week and dominating over megastar Johnny Depp’s new movie.

    April 20, 2014

  • Probe could complicate Rick Perry’s prospects

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent a record 14 years in office vanquishing nearly all who dared confront him: political rivals, moms against mandatory vaccines for sixth graders, a coyote in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    April 20, 2014

  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014