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Through the Banks of the Red Cedar: My Father and the Team That Changed the Game Kindle Edition
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A warm and invigorating memoir about a daughter’s love for her father and her appreciation for how he and others changed the game of football forever.
Gene Washington’s football career ended long before his daughter Maya was born. She never saw the legendary powerhouse as anything but her dad. She didn’t yet grasp the impact he’d had on the sport—and on America. To understand his historic role in the integration of college football, witness his influence on generations that followed, and fully appreciate his legacy, Maya had a lot of catching up to do.
Maya retraces her father’s journey from the segregated south to Michigan State during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement and his journey as an NFL pioneer after the 1967 draft. She reflects on how her father’s childhood—and the racism he faced—shaped her upbringing and influenced his expectations of her. She also discovers how unbreakable the emotional bond between teammates can be. But above all, Maya and her father get to know each other. As their own bond deepens, so does Maya’s connection to the sport that changed the trajectory of her father’s life…and hers.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month: History
“An immensely moving tribute to her father, former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Gene Washington…Readers will be enthralled and heartened by this unique look at the way sports can influence society.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The book should appeal to college football enthusiasts, especially those interested in how racial issues impacted the sport during the 20th century.” —Kirkus Reviews
From the Publisher
Maya grew up knowing that her father, Gene Washington, had been a star college athlete at Michigan State University and a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings, but it wasn’t until she began having candid conversations with her father and his former teammates that she discovered how they broke racial barriers in the 1960s and ultimately changed the game forever.
I found myself drawn to Maya’s warm and engaging voice as she traces her father’s journey from the segregated Jim Crow South to the North and captures what it was like for him to be one of the few Black players on the team. Maya develops a newfound appreciation for the game and a deeper connection to her father. I was moved by how Gene Washington helped pave the way for aspiring young Black athletes today and I bet you will be too.
—Carmen Johnson, Editor
- ASIN : B08QJ7HWP4
- Publisher : Little A (January 1, 2022)
- Publication date : January 1, 2022
- Language : English
- File size : 14264 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 233 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1542016665
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #100,945 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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By trade, Maya is not a writer but a filmmaker. This book is preceded in time by a documentary with the same name. (The documentary is being aired privately at the time of this writing in late 2021.) Using the same research, she shares their collective story in a literary format. The book touches on deep themes like racism, economic mobility, family, the need for social dignity, and the rights of athletes to be rewarded for their work.
Gene played with the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos for several seasons with a career limited by injury. In concert with recent trends, he is being (rightly) acknowledged as among a generation who laid the foundation for integrated college football, for the Minnesota Vikings franchise, and for the early growth of the NFL. Of course, his daughter’s perspective allows his personal side to be brought to light as well, and that thread makes this story especially heartwarming.
This historical tale will appear particularly to football fans and more broadly to all those who yearn for a more just society. Football is a big industry in American society, and aspiring football players can learn through Maya the complexities of its ascent. Female football fans might also appreciate her account, which speaks of feminine roles in this traditionally masculine of sports. Stories and voices like these need to be recorded before this generation of American heroes dies. Their work, courage, and sacrifices have helped us all become better.
I thank you Maya for bringing this labor of love to print. You are a captivating storyteller!
Her research is deep. But it is not confined to secondary sources. Her father, Gene Washington, was a key member of the Michigan State team along with fellow All-Americans Bubba Smith, Clinton Jones, and George Webster, all of whom were first round selections in the 1967 NFL draft. She had access to these and other players and coaches (and their friends and relatives), making the book almost first person.
Disclosure: I was there, being a 1968 Michigan State grad; none of this story is fictional. A wonderful and important book.