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Dre & Smiley – The Inner Circle

Ep. 136 Pioneering Spirit: Unveiling the Legacy of Charles Follis, the First Black Professional Football Player

Join us in a captivating episode as we delve into the remarkable life of Charles Follis, the trailblazing figure who shattered racial barriers as the first Black professional American football player. In an exclusive interview with Charles Smith, Follis’ great-nephew, we uncover the untold stories of Follis’ groundbreaking journey with the Shelby Blues in the early 1900s. Learn about his historic signing in 1904, making him the first Black man on an integrated football team.

Discover the intersection of Follis’ path with baseball legend Branch Rickey and the profound impact it had on the future of American sports. Find out how Follis’ spirit and prowess on the field inspired Rickey to sign Jackie Robinson in 1947, forever changing the landscape of baseball.

As we celebrate Follis as a catalyst for the Black movement, we also explore the tragic end to his life in 1910 at the age of 31, leaving a legacy that continues to resonate. Tune in to this episode honoring a true pioneer who, though gone too soon, played an instrumental role in breaking the barriers of race in sports.

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