"An impressive achievement, one of the most useful titles recently published on the history of race and sport."--The Journal of American History
"[Martin] provides moving descriptions of individual athletes who braved open hostility and threats of violence and of the coaches who insisted that the teams be integrated. And he is masterful in weaving all this material into the broader social history of the South. The result is an impressive, profound piece of scholarship. Essential."--Choice
"Should be a standard text in sport history classes for many years."--Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"Martin has written this valuable history -- the first of its kind -- documenting the process of integrating the playing fields of Southern universities and colleges. It's an important book."--El Paso Times
"A well written historical analysis of the development of sport institutions at all-white colleges and universities in the South. . . . Thought provoking, and accessible."--The Journal of African American History
"Given the perennial pertinence of racial issues in the United States, the attachment to intercollegiate athletics in the South, and the presence of African-American athletes, this subject begs for attention. Charles H. Martin is well-versed in college sports and academic archives, and the scope and depth of his research is astounding."--William J. Baker, author of Jesse Owens: An American Life
"Historians, sports scholars, and students will refer to Benching Jim Crow for many years to come as the standard source on the integration of intercollegiate sport."--Mark S. Dyreson, author of Making the American Team: Sport, Culture, and the Olympic Experience and Crafting Patriotism: America at the Olympic Games
"Benching Jim Crow is a powerful indictment of a racist system, much of which has been dismantled by law, social pressure, and the belated recognition by southern coaches and athletic directors that recruiting white athletes exclusively would doom their universities to teams that might aspire to mediocrity on their most optimistic days."--Bill Littlefield, Only a Game
Since the late nineteenth century, college athletics have mattered enormously to southern white males, whether they were students, alumni, or sports fans who never set foot inside a college classroom. Football especially came to inspire passions and state pride. Colleges and universities in the South sought to prove that they were the equal of teams anywhere in the country, but equality was strictly limited. While Southern football and basketball teams aspired to national fame, the South was enforcing ever stricter segregation. Black players, no matter how talented, could not play. When teams from other parts of the country allowed blacks to play, Southern teams refused to play them or required them to bench their black players for their games, or when confronted by campus resistance after World War II, refused to play them at home.
Examining the history of college football and basketball during the Jim Crow era, this volume shows how racial discrimination was enforced in the South and how teams in the North were long compliant with it. Martin reveals how dozens of northern universities themselves excluded black players from their own teams well into the 1940s. He then traces the long, slow change that led to integrated competition, the recruitment of black players, and the hiring of black coaches. Changes came from several sides and did not come easily. One incentive for change turned out to be athletic competition: when teams from smaller schools with black players began to defeat all-white teams from the South
With special attention to the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and teams in Texas, Martin shows the gradual disappearance of Jim Crow segregation in the colleges of the South. More than a study of how segregation affected college football and basketball, it shows how college sports helped bring down Jim Crow.