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Bill Curry marched at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral

Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the news has been dominated by stories about his reach and influence. One of the most interesting I’ve read centers around former Kentucky football coach Bill Curry, who opened up to The Undefeated about how football changed his views on race, prompting him to march at Dr. King’s funeral procession in Atlanta.

Curry, a Georgia native, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1964 and recalls adapting to playing on an integrated team for the first time. Those early experiences changed him forever, he says.

“My biggest problem was I had never been in the huddle with an African-American person. There were teams in the league that had quotas, or they had no African-American players, and they bragged about it. In the Packers’ training camp, if you said one racist sentence, you were cut immediately. That was the talk in the locker room. On a 40-man roster we had 10 African-American players, and [Lombardi] would have had 40 because he didn’t care about the color of your skin. He cared a lot if you could play football, and he cared a lot if you were a good human being. He had a gift for selecting all of the above and blending all of those various qualities. There we were, playing against teams with no African-American players, and we’ve got Willie Wood and Herb Adderley and Bob Jeter and Lionel Aldridge and Willie Davis. And I thought those guys would hear my Southern accent and hurt me and send me home.”

Curry’s friendships with Marv Fleming and Willie Davis made him a fierce advocate for civil rights, to the point he and his wife insisted on attending Dr. King’s funeral procession despite his families’ pleas not to.

“Our daughter had just been born the year before. Some family members said some things to me to try to persuade us not to go. ‘You know you’ve got an obligation, you’ve got to be thinking about that child.’ And I said, ‘I am thinking about that child. I’m going to be at the funeral.’”

Cool stuff. Check out the entire story at the link below.

[The Undefeated]


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

5 Comments for Bill Curry marched at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral

  1. Bluebros
    9:52 pm April 4, 2018 Permalink

    A great read… Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. BTownUKFan
    10:53 pm April 4, 2018 Permalink

    Curry didn’t have a successful career at Kentucky, but it was a man of honor and firm convictions. I’ll never forget the picture of him cleaning up the blood off the porch after one of his players was murdered.

  3. RealCatsFan
    10:53 pm April 4, 2018 Permalink

    Bill Curry might not have been very successful as a football coach at UK, but he was one of the best PEOPLE to coach any sport at UK.

  4. Megan
    10:54 am April 5, 2018 Permalink

    The White House issued a proclamation honoring MLK, but Trump rails against the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality. What’s up with that? It’s the same struggle.

    And because of that, I have no trouble seeing this “law and order” president rail against MLK and the civil rights movement back in the day. Is there any doubt he would have supported the police at Selma and elsewhere with their batons and German shepherds and fire hoses?

  5. catfansteve007
    5:17 pm April 5, 2018 Permalink

    Coach Curry was not a great football coach even though he managed to win in Alabama. However, he was one of the best men that ever coached anything at Kentucky. He was a Class Act, that represented UK the right way. I do wish Curry would have won at UK, but he wasn’t going to do that having Tim Couch run the option. He did not have the personnel to run the kind of schemes he wanted to run.
    Megan, why bring politics into this? Martin Luther King and black lives matter is not the same struggle. Martin Luther King also had class and preached non-violence and to do things based on scripture. Black lives matter on the other hand is run by a bunch of racists who openly say that white people should have things taken from them and given to black people just because they are white and have “white privelage”. The leader of the Kentucky chapter wrote an article for the Leo newspaper stating exactly that thing. Plus they don’t preach non-violence, they preach violence against. Your statement was way off base. Not sure when people are going to actually realize that poor people regardless of color are incarcerated and discriminated against more often. While a higher percentage of African Americans may live in poverty and make it seem like they are the ones being jailed for minor crimes at a much higher rate, if you look at socio-economic conditions, poor white people get treated just as badly as poor African Americans.
    How about we keep politics off of ksr, I would venture to say the vast majority of kentuckians have a positive view of MLK.