Ongoing press about the film and story “How Bobby Grier...Read More
The true story of the most politically explosive football game in history, the 1956 Sugar Bowl.
After 65 years, the Grier and Van Leer families have come together to recount the true story of Bobby Grier, a University of Pittsburgh football player, and Blake Van Leer, the fifth President of Georgia Tech, who were at the forefront of the most politically explosive football game in history. The film will tell how Grier, Van Leer, students, and faculty fought and won against segregationists and political interference that tried to prevent African American Grier from playing in the 1956 Sugar Bowl, marking it as the first integrated Sugar Bowl in history and first integrated bowl game in the Deep South.
The 1956 Sugar Bowl took place in the wake of court-ordered desegregation of public schools, the incendiary Emmett Till murder trial, and the Montgomery bus boycott (who both will be casted in film). Since its 1935 inception, no black player had taken the field in the Deep South.
Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin
“The South stands at Armageddon. The battle is joined. We cannot make the slightest concession to the enemy in this dark and lamentable hour of struggle. There is no more difference in compromising integrity of race on the playing field than in doing so in the classroom. One break in the dike and the relentless enemy will rush in and destroy us.” – Governor Griffin
Georgia Tech President Blake Van Leer
Georgia Tech President Van Leer was already catching heat for allowing women into Georgia Tech. Nevertheless, he vehemently rejected Gov. Griffin’s racist demands, which was not a stand to serve him well in the 1950s; death threats ensued. “Either we’re going to the Sugar Bowl, or you can find yourself another damn president of Georgia Tech,” Van Leer replied to Griffin