To properly celebrate Black History Month, JerseyChaser will be taking a special look at notable Black men that have made significant contributions to sports with our Appreciate Ya Black Man (#AYBM) series. Enjoy!
Kenneth S. “Kingfish” Washington is considered by many to be the Jackie Robinson of modern football, joining Woody Strode as the first African-Americans to play in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams.
Coincidentally Washington was teammates with Robinson and Strode on the 1939 UCLA football squad that played that eventually champion USC squad to a 0-0 tie.
A star running back on the Bruins squad and nationally leader in total offense in the 1939 season, Washington was named a 2nd-team All America selection, with many feeling that he should have been selected to the first team but was not because of the racism that ran rampant during that era.
Washington was also denied the opportunity to participate in the East-West Shrine game as a result of some racial hateration.
Washington wouldn’t make it to the NFL until 1945 though, denied the chance to play in “America’s Game” until the Cleveland Rams decided to relocate to Los Angeles and the city forced the team to hire African-American players.
A true legend and diehard Republican (shocker), Washington was also homies with Richard Nixon if you can believe that. Nobody’s perfect.
Kenny Washington was a true trail blazer and paved the way for African-Americans to dominate the running back position.
So to Kenny Washington we would just like to say: Appreciate Ya Black Man.