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The Washington Redskins are one of the most beloved franchises of the National Football League, with a largely African-American fan base. Currently embroiled in a fight with prominent Native American groups over its racist nickname, the team’s past was also marked with controversy.

George Marshall was the founder and owner of the Redskins, starting the team as the Boston Braves in Massachusetts in 1932. The team moved to Washington, D.C. in 1937 changing its name to the Redskins just prior to the move. Black players were banned from playing in the NFL until 1946 when the league began signing individual Black players.

Marshall would have none of it, and was pegged by professor Charles Ross as the leading racist of the NFL. Marshall was staunch in his views, even stating that he’d sign Blacks as soon as the Harlem Globetrotters signed whites.

But everything changed for Marshall in 1962, when then Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall and then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered Marshall to sign a Black player or have the federal lease to the D.C. Stadium revoked.

Little Known Black History Fact: George Marshall And The Washington Redskins was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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