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Big Rapids Native and 'Raye of Light' Author to Discuss Desegregating College Football

Raye of LightBig Rapids native and the author of “Raye of Light,” Tom Shanahan, will be speaking to students about “Desegregating College Football: Jimmy Raye at MSU and the Ferris Connection” on Thursday, Nov. 6 in College of Business, Room 111 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Shanahan will be discussing his new book, “Raye of Light.” The book shares his experiences working with Jimmy Raye, the first Southern black quarterback to lead Michigan State University’s football team to a national championship. Raye was coached by Duffy Daugherty, one of the first coaches to integrate his team in an era when many college programs were still segregated. This story highlights the groundbreaking movement of integration that left a lasting impact on college football.

Shanahan will also discuss the “Ferris connection” that focuses on Gideon Smith, the first black football player at Ferris Institute. He came to Ferris in 1910 and played football for three years before enrolling at Michigan State and becoming the first black football player at MSU.

“We were thrilled when Tom Shanahan contacted us last summer to offer to visit Ferris to share his book on the story of Jimmy Raye,” said Sandra Alspach, professor of Communication. “Both Gideon's and Jimmy's stories should inspire anyone who ‘imagines more.’”

“Raye of Light” will be available for purchase before and after the presentation courtesy of Great Lakes Book and Office Supply. Shanahan will be signing books in the Interdisciplinary Resource Center after the presentation.