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Pro Football Hall honors middle school student’s history report on Duffy’s Underground Railroad

PHOTOS: Fraser Hartnell (above and below) with is award-winning history display on Michigan State football’s ground-breaking team.

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Fraser Hartnell, a middle school student in Westerville, Ohio, stands with his award-winning display on Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty’s Underground Railroad teams leading college football integration.

Fraser, 13, won state-wide competition and was later honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He is the son and grandson of Michigan State graduates.

His father, Ben Hartnell, teaches history at Westerville North. When he covers Civil Rights in the 1960s, he uses my book, “Raye of Light, Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans and the Integration of College Football,” to explain the role sports can play educating a wider public. Michigan State’s 1960s teams under Duffy Daugherty were transformative.

On September 7, The Drive with Jack host Jack Ebling invited Fraser Hartnell to co-host his show. Ebling surprised Hartnell by bringing on the phone Jimmy Raye, Michigan State’s ground-breaking quarterback and coach, for Hartnell to interview. Click here to listen.


Daugherty, a College Football Hall of Famer, assembled college football’s first fully integrated rosters with Midwest-based rosters and players recruited from the segregated South, including College Football Hall of Famers, Bubba Smith, Beaumont, Texas; George Webster, Anderson, South Carolina and Gene Washington, La Porte, Texas. Jimmy Raye of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was the South’s first Black quarterback to win a national title on the 1965 and 1966 teams.


Click here for the Pro Football Hall of Fame post that has topped 53.4K views (and counting): Pro Football Hall of Fame post

Click here to hear Fraser discuss his display on a Michigan State sports talk show: The Drive with Jack


What I found interesting listening to Fraser was hearing how the judges were surprised at all the information they didn’t know about Michigan State’s teams. As I’ve said in many reports, the myths and fiction of the 1970 USC-Alabama game have captured the narrative at the expensive of the true 1960s pioneers. By that, Daugherty’s teams helped opened the doors in the South as the first Black players. Athletes such as SMU’s Jerry LeVias, Houston’s Warren McVea, Kentucky’s Wilbur Hackett, Tennessee’s Lester McClain and Auburn’s James Owens.

The true 1960s pioneers cleared the road to college football integration, making it fait accompli by 1970.

Note that Owens signed with Auburn in 1969 — one year before Alabama coach Bear Bryant signed his first Black, Wilbur Jackson. That was months before USC arrived in Birmingham, although the false narrative around the 1970 USC-Alabama game was Alabama segregationist governor George Wallace untied Bryant’s hands after USC’s Black athletes ran over Alabama’s all-white team.

Fraser also referenced Jimmy Raye and myself joining Ben Hartnell’s history class in a Zoom call. Click here to watch and listen.

If you want to read about how the false narrative behind the 1970 USC-Alabama game worked its way into the national folklore, here are some stories:

—- Timing right to reexamine Bryant folklore, 1970 USC-Alabama fiction and dispossessed true 1960s pioneers – Tom Shanahan Report

—- Part IV: College football integration lore, in the form of traffic, was steered down a fairy tale exit – Tom Shanahan Report

—- Correcting ESPN on Duffy Daugherty’s legacy – Tom Shanahan Report


I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055

Click here for my story on the 1962 Rose Bowl and Segregation awarded first place by the Football Writers Association of America.

Click here for my NIL partners.

I tell untold stories on Michigan State’s leading role and the true pioneers of college football integration. Click here to read a summary.

Click here to purchase Raye of Light.


Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

Foreword by Tony Dungy

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