Indomitable: Ora Washington, Philadelphia’s Ultimate Sports Trailblazer

On June 5, 1971, the African American newspaper Philadelphia Tribune published an obituary for an individual it called “Superwoman.” Although it was a fitting homage, few who read the Tribune that day would have appreciated the level of deference granted to the individual at the center of that tribute. Her name was Ora Mae Washington (1898–1971). Another African American paper, the Pittsburgh...
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100 Games: The Penn State–Pitt Rivalry

It “leaves an everlasting impression on you because, in Pennsylvania, it’s the only game that counts,” wrote Tim Panaccio about the rivalry between the Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers in his 1982 book Beast of the East: Penn State vs. Pitt. In the same breath, he added, “Records don’t mean a thing, just who wins this game.” Panaccio’s...
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Biz Mackey, a Giant Behind the Plate by Rich Westcott

Biz Mackey, a Giant behind the Plate The Story of the Negro League Star and Hall of Fame Catcher by Rich Westcott Temple University Press, 208 pp., cloth $27.50 Rich Westcott, former president of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association, commonly maintains that professional baseball, with its complicated racial history, “is not one that can be easily digested.” While true, the career of James...
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“I Must Be an Abolitionist”: Pennsylvania Liberty Man Francis Julius LeMoyne

In 1839, when William Lloyd Garrison (1805–79) and his allies lost control of the abolitionist movement in Warsaw, New York, African Americans could only vote in seven states. In the North, free blacks could neither sue nor own weapons, and their wages were disproportionate with those of their white counterparts for the same type of work. The Slave Power seemingly strengthened its influence in...
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Chuck Noll by Michael MacCambridge

Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work by Michael MacCambridge University of Pittsburgh Press, 504 pp., cloth $27.95 There is a saying in the world of professional sports that a coach will not know for five to ten years whether a decision to accept a job was the right choice. That maxim, in essence, says everything about the risks of making a career out of professional coaching, and it is the theme...
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Keep the Boys in College! How World War I Produced a Penn State Football Legend

Pennsylvanians who remember Glenn Killinger (1898–1988) often envision the legendary coach of West Chester State Teachers’ College football and baseball teams during the decades that spanned 1933 to 1970. His name often comes up in conversations about Paul “Bear” Bryant as one of the two unbending football minds who led the North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters to one of the...
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Breaking the Color Line: The Trial That Led to the End of Legal Segregation in Pennsylvania’s Schools

The half-century following the Civil War was an unpleasant yet profound period of race relations in American history. To date, much of the scholarship about equal rights during that era concentrates on Southern reconstruction while ignoring some very important accomplishments in other parts of the country. Activists in Pennsylvania, for instance, took up a complicated struggle over state and...
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Pioneering the Civil Rights Movement

Many individuals tend to overlook the political work championed by Black abolitionists during the second half of the nineteenth century. Instead, they celebrate slavery’s demise and then suddenly move on to the civil rights movement of the twentieth century, possibly unaware of what took place on the nation’s streets and in legislative offices and courtrooms from the 1860s through the 1890s. The...
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