Sunday, July 17, 2016
Lincoln’s Legends & Legacy: Upcoming football season marks 50th anniversary of LMHS Ray Bellamy’s historic signing with Miami that broke down racial barriers
Lincoln Memorial Ray Bellamy broke the color barrier in major college football in the Southeast. Bellamy was the first African-American on a football scholarship at University of Miami.
PALMETTO, Florida -- Ray Bellamy sat in a holding cell waiting for help to arrive. His crime: Riding in a car driven by a white female, who was giving him a tour of the University of Miami campus.
When Bellamy signed with Miami in 1966 to become the first African-American to play college football in the Southeast, the Lincoln High School graduate knew things would happen that would defy his sense of logic and justice.
But he had the resolve to respond without anger. He understood breaking barriers would not come without encountering obstacles meant to crush his spirit.
It’s why Miami chose Bellamy when school president Dr. Henry King Stanford decided it was time for his university to give an athletic scholarship to its first African-American.
School officials put out the word they were looking for someone similar to Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Robinson was articulate, a college graduate and a person who had the strength to handle harassment without striking back. At the time, this last point was crucial. Bellamy and Robinson shared some traits.
The son of illiterate migrant workers, Bellamy was a three-sport standout, an excellent student, the student council president at Lincoln High School in Palmetto. His classmates in the Class of 1967 voted him most likely succeed.