American Presidents





Gerald R. Ford
Letters

Gerald R. Ford


In this letter to E. Davis Wilcox, President Ford remembers a University of Michigan - Georgia Tech football game. At that time, some participants from Georgia protested the presence of an African-American member of the UM team.

April 19, 1974

Dear Dave:

I am certain that all would agree that great progress has been made since 1934 when the incident you mentioned caused two fine football players, one from each team, to sit on the sidelines. Fortunately a great deal of progress in race relations has been made in our nation in the last 42 years.
Your letter of April 14 and the copy of your letter of April 13 to Bobby Dodd has been received.

The Sports Illustrated issue of December 21, 1959, brought back great memories. I was very proud to be in that group with you. I have the silver goal post displayed in our relaxation room on the second floor of the White House where Betty and I spend a few quiet evenings. I am returning your copy of the magazine inasmuch as I have kept one also.

Your memory of the incident in the Georgia Tech-Michigan game is a bit better than mine. However, I am certain that during the game there were "some words passed between us." That was frequently the case between a center and the opposing guards. I suspect it still happens although in our day probably more often with players playing both offense and defense.

You are undoubtedly correct that Michigan didn't make first down deep in our own territory after the second half kick-off. Michigan in 1934 was not much of an offensive threat as the record of one victory and seven losses clearly shows.

I can more definitely verify that we congratulated each other after the final whistle. This is what I believe is the best element in athletic competition. Fierce and fair competition which ends with a handshake is the driving force that has kept the United States on the move for 200 years.

In your letter to Bobby Dodd you mention Willis Ward who has an enviable record of public service in my State of Michigan -- a federal prosecutor, Chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, and now a fine Judge in the Michigan judiciary. I am certain that all would agree that great progress has been made since 1934 when the incident you mentioned caused two fine football players, one from each team, to sit on the sidelines. Fortunately a great deal of progress in race relations has been made in our nation in the last 42 years.

If you see Bobby Dodd, give him my best.

Warmest best wishes,

Gerald R. Ford

[The above letter was re-printed with cooperation and permission from the Gerald R. Ford Library]


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