Girl, 8, helps honor 1930s U. of Mich. athlete
Eight-year-old Genna Urbain of Brighton, Mich., wears a No. 61 Michigan jersey in honor of African-American Willis Ward, Wednesday Oct. 10, 2012 in front of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ward, a member of the Wolverines' 1934 football team who was not permitted to play in a game at Georgia Tech on Oct. 20, 1934 because of the color of his skin. Urbain watched a documentary film about Willis Ward and successfully lobbied state legislators and the U-M Board of Regents to make this Oct. 20th Willis Ward Day. (AP Photo/Detroit News, )
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A 1930s University of Michigan athlete is being honored thanks in part to the efforts of an 8-year-old girl.
Genna Urbain of Brighton saw a documentary titled "Black and Blue" about events surrounding the Wolverines’ football game against Georgia Tech on Oct. 20, 1934.
The filmmakers highlight Willis Ward, who was benched for the game because he was black, and she was moved to action.
The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell and The Detroit News report Genna addressed the University of Michigan board and lobbied legislators. Now, Oct. 20 is being recognized as Willis Ward Day in Michigan. The Wolverines plan to honor Ward at their home game against Michigan State that day.
Ward died in 1983. He was a friend at teammate of President Gerald Ford.