The 38th President was a real class act. Not trying to get political but I think the circumstances that led him to be President and the way he responded to them were exemplary. He was a great Michigan Man, one of the best.
Excellent article on President Ford, Willis Ward, and Yost's Racism
Wow, it's just weird to think that someone you practically saw as a hero in Michigan history would hate you just because of your skin color if they ever had the chance to meet you. I did not know that about him. A black mark indeed.
Of course, those were different times, but there were many non-racists, I would imagine.
Yeah if the story's true I really don't like Yost's name on a building.
In those times racism was not what it is today. He was raised in a different time in a different environment. If he was alive today, he would probably think differently.
I don't think anyone should cut racists slack. While it's not his explicit "fault" that he was born into circumstances that led him to believe other races to be inferior, he was confronted with arguments against racism and still chose to be racist. That's not something to cast aside. He couldn't see the error of his ways, and I think he should be held accountable.
do not see the errors of our ways. Many whites then did not have much exposure to blacks to form a valid opinion. For the most part, they formed their opinions on what they were told by their parents and friends. I'm not defending racism in any way, but the basis for it then was not the same as today-limited esposure and tainted influences. He did a lot of good for the university and for many people.
Yost grew up in a very different era. He thought what he knew about race was right. That doesn't excuse what he did and I for one am shocked and saddened by his actions and his attitudes. However, Yost did a lot of good for a University that he cared a great deal about. And if he could not find a positive role for himself in a post slavery world, we can pity him, but we should not dismiss him.
Back in those days, I'm sure there was a much higher percentage of racists (especially overt racists) in America. How many racists do you think have their names on buildings today? My guess is a plethora. Although Yost may not have had the best character, Michigan football wouldn't exist at this level without him. The fact that he was a racist means we should take his legacy with a grain of salt. To name a human rights charity after him would be inappropriate, but I don't see how naming a hockey arena after him is wildly inappropriate, especially since he is the reason it was built.
You're probably right that back then a survey would find a higer percentage of racist attitudes then one taken in the modern day, but the percentages seem more relevant to explaining those attitudes of actions than excusing them.
You suggest other situations where a name attached to these alleged actions would be inappropriate I agree. I just don't see why we wouldn't hold the University to the higher standard.
is that racism was not characteristic of Ann Arbor and the Michigan campus, even in that era. Yost was from West Virginia and brought his attitudes North-- which is not to say that it didn't exist, but there were student protests and numerous letters from community members who were outraged by the exclusion of Ward. (I'm also surprised that Bacon didn't even mention the documentary in the article, as someone mentions below, since he was a major part of it.)
I'd highly recommend seeing the film, because it includes more material than Bacon could include in his article, including the Willis Ward-Jesse Owens rivalry, the other Ford (Henry) and his "enforcer." (Some of the fascinating details may have been in the Q&A after the screening for the alumni club in NY rather than in the film itself, but the film has plenty.)
I'm okay with his name on the building. He practically built Michigan's reputation. I'm African so I tend to cut racists some slack (at least racists that were racist when racism was common). I can remember the first time I met a white person. I was a child so it was fascinating to meet someone I'd only seen on TV. I can imagine in those times, blacks weren't portrayed favorably on TV. I don't know, but I can see how one may develop racist beliefs. It's just ignorance and I don't hate racists the same way I don't hate stupid people. It's actually pretty sad.
P.S. This day has been full of topics on race. It's ridiculous.
So Mrs. Kass decided this post was okay but we can't have bewb pics. You should get divorced.
What does that have to do with anything?
FTR, Mrs. Kass doesn't read and approve or disapprove of anything I post.
Also, FTR, this is Brian's blog, not mine. You can post whatever you want (including boobs,) and whatever he and the mods allow. If you want to go down the banks of the Red Cedar and post boob pics, be my guest.
In fact, boobs have been posted here at mgoblog before, and I'd personally be fine with your doing it again. Right now. I'm waiting.
Edit: and last FTR, I didn't downvote you.
he was just joking, even though it wasn't really that great.
Faulty sarcasm meter. It has been recalibrated.
He wasnt being sarcastic Stephen - he's a dick. That is the new name for the poster formally known as "Dark Blue" who was so fond of funnels and such.
Honestly, I was surprised he admitted that, although it does put his new accounts unfunny posts into better context.
Yeah, I 'm not getting the joke.
I heard Yost had a black friend.
He even invited him into his home. That one never ceases to get a laugh out of me.
Pawn Stars the other night and a guy brought in a few belt buckles from President Ford and Rick didnt want them saying that Gerald Ford was one of the worst Presidents and that no collector wanted his stuff. Which I tohught was weird I always though Gerald was a great man even before becoming President. Maybe I am just a front runner cause of his days at U of M.
Without getting too political, I think Ford was probably the best man for the job at the time. No, he was never elected, but after Nixon resigned the country was in a pretty bad place with a lot of people not trusting the government. By holding things steady, he shored things up as best he could and got people to forget about the scandal. Also signing the Helsinki Accords isn't too shabby either
conspiracy theorists will not agree on this, Ford sacrificed his political career for the country when he pardoned Nixon, as if Nixon resigning in shame was not enough punishment. Ford was most respected in congress, mostly for his integrity. The article says as much about Ward as it does for Ford in that Ward was a good guy and liked by Ford for that reason.
Anyone notice the cameo by Arthur Miller? I didn't realize those timelines matched up and he was part of this story.
I believe Arthur Miller was a freshman when Gerald Ford and Willis Ward were seniors. Per the documentary (which i recently saw), his involvement in this story had to do with his job at the Michigan Daily - he felt very strongly that Willis should play or the game should be canceled, and wrote an editorial piece for the daily that at the end of the day the Daily didnt publish because it was too scathing. (not shown as it cant be found, but its existence and content were corrobarated by folks involved)
I haven't seen the documentary, but worked at the Daily during college and if you look at the archives there were numerous letters etc. in Ward's favor, which was good to see. This was at a time when Michigan wasn't seen as much as the liberal school that it is today.
While reading this, I found it really hard to not tear up. That period was shameful, but it also led to people stepping it up and revealing their character. RIP President Ford.
Yost was also allegedly anti-Catholic and that caused a lot of the Big Ten/Michigan exclusionary policies regarding Notre Dame, causing them to barnstorm the East and winning huge upsets against teams like Army and Ivys, which in turn lead to their huge East coast following/national presence.
Yost still has a lot to do with how college football is shaped today.
That's ND's party line. Another (more accurate) version of events is that ND refused for a long time to submit to certain eligibility rules. In the early 1900s, the NCAA did not have any kind of regulatory power, but conferences began to put in general guidelines that became universal, such as four years of eligibility. ND refused to go along with this and at times would field teams with guys in their sixth or seventh year of college. It was rumored that some weren't even enrolled in college at all - they were straight-up ringers.
This bit of history is rather embarassing to ND now, so they've cooked up a little "They didn't like us because we were Catholic" cover story to explain the Big Ten's repeated rejection.
Ever hear of a guy named Willie Heston? He was a ringer Yost got accepted into law school so he could play on his point a minute teams. Oh boy did he play. First at San Jose Normal College (now SJSU) and then at Michigan.
Heston was here before the push for eligibility rules. The movement for fixed eligibilty started a few years later, as one of President Roosevelt's recommendations to clean up the sport. The original recommendation was for three years of eligibility. Yost wanted four (which caused us to withdraw from the Big Ten for a time). ND didn't want any.
Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?
It could be both, but I'm not sure how much evidence there is for the contention that Yost disliked Catholics. I'm pretty sure he had his share of Catholic players.
It is documented that ND did not agree to the Big Ten's eligibility requirements. (Michigan also disagreed with them for a time, which was part of the reason why we withdrew, but we came around and rejoined the league).
Again, it is so painfully easy to go off into extreme one-dimensionalism when tallking about prejudices in eras of so long ago.
But yeah, Old Man Yost and Fritz Crisler too did not much care for Notre Dame and it was -- how shall I say this delicately -- somewhat personal.
Rejecting ND from the Big Ten would likely have been "just business." Not anti-Catholic animus. I don't really believe that anti-Catholic animus would have played a role in any big football decision. Recall that Yost and/or Crisler didn't just work to keep ND out. Crisler did everything he possibly could, to keep Michigan State College out of the Conference.
Whoever suggested taking Yost's name off the Fieldhouse; why not start with the Jefferson Memorial first? Then the Washington Monument. Then change the name of Jackson, Michigan closer to home. You get the idea.
I'm not sure if Yost was anti-Catholic specifically, but he hated Knute Rockne with a passion. He actually banned Notre Dame from ever joining the Big Ten in 1923 at a track meet at Illinois. Its kind of ironic now, given how the B1G would kill to have Notre Dame join.
Yost made Michigan what it is today, but his few screw-ups were monumental (Willis Ward, and banning Notre Dame)
you may be right. I don't claim to be a historical expert on Yost. But I had heard it the other way. That Yost did not care for Notre Dame, although he got along okay with Rockne as a bit of a character.
Remember Rockne (who coached Gipp, and the Four Horsemen and went up against Red Grange) singled out Michigan's Willie Heston as being easily the best running back he ever knew of.
If you want the full story behind Yost and Crisler hating ND, I highly suggest reading Natural Enemies: Michigan vs notre dame. Great read. Writer isn't for one side or the other.
Wonder what Diggs will tweet when he reads this article?
If that is your real name. I know you neg most threads, but come on. This is literally the perfect post. Informative title, informative summary, and excellent content in the post and link. Why did you neg the OP? I really want to know.
Would like to know too how big10football decides what to neg. But i vaguely think I wrote something else that big10football took offense at, so I will now be serially negged when I post. Which is ok, especially since we're in the post 1/25/11 era. Regardless, thanks for your positive feedback, Mitch Cumstein (if that's your real name.)
But my grandfather roomed with Yost, and he also introduced me, as a boy, to Willis Ward. It was a real honor to meet Ward, especially under the circumstances, which was a football tailgate on Ferry Field, the scene of so many of Ward's triumphs in outdoor track, in the days before they tore down the old football grandstand.
I think John has oversimplified the story a bit, and Old Man Yost comes off as a one-dimensional racist. But that's what you need to do in the space limitations of a newspaper story.
Willis Ward, as I wrote here, really was an elegant and authoritative gentleman when I met him. He was by then a Wayne County Probate Court Judge; not exactly the hardest judicial job in the world, but he was indeed an excellent judge although I never appeared in front of him. (Amazing coincidence that Willie Heston and Willis Ward both became Wayne County Judges.)
And John has left out part of the Gerry Ford story. Remember that Ford became the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, and he didn't get there by playing nice. Ford tried to get Justice Warren Douglas impeached from the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the 60's equivalent of a kind of a cross between John Boehner and Newt Gingrich. Ford could be a very mean sob, when he wanted.
When I was fresh out of law school, I practiced law on occasion in front of Willis Ward. He was indeed a very thoughtful person and an excellent judge. The Probate Courts seemed tame, but it takes a lot of patience to try, say, a contested will matter, or some of the other serious cases that came before probate judges that were strictly "gloves off" in those days.
Most of us knew of his days at Michigan. Coincidentally, Gerald Ford was president at the time.
I agree that Ford was a fighter, but he was also far more affable and diplomatic than the two men you mention.
Oversimplification for space reasons? I can believe that. This is a newspaper article, not another "Three and Out."
However, what is your take when John Bacon writes,
one of Yost's blind-spots had no redeeming qualities: He was a racist.
Section 1, do you or do you not agree with that statement? That's not a case of "oversimplification." This is a sensitive topic for me, and for our country. One of my grandfathers was a pilot in World War I with the Luftwaffe. He was a flat out racist. I don't care that many Germans of that era were racists. As my mama would say, "if every other fool is jumping off the roof, would you do it too?" The fact that many others were racist, and it was part of the culture, and the time, is no excuse. Racism is wrong. And Bacon is being politic, but reading between the lines, it sure seems like Yost identified with the Ty Cobb vitriolic mean spirited racism. That is just wrong.
A great, great grandfather in another branch of my family tree owned thousands of slaves in western Kentucky. He was a racist. I don't care that many people in that part of the country condoned slavery and racism. That is an explanation, but not a justification.
However, I actually am interested in this topic. Should you have source material that explains Yost's racism more fully, rather than "over-simplifying," I'd be interested.
This piece by John U. Bacon; it was originally designed as one of his 4-minute spoken essay commentaries for Michigan Radio. It is a very constrained limit, although John's careful retelling of this story is well-crafted.
It is just very hard to put the history of 19th and 20th American racism in context, in a 4-minute radio script.
You can listen to John, HERE.
One of the most uncelebrated Michigan players of all-time, George Jewett (pictured below with circle around him) was the first black football player to suit up at Michigan AND in the Western Conference (now Big Ten). Jewett played from 1890-1892, was a star halfback, fullback and field goal kicker. John Heisman described George as a "superior athlete". Legendary Chicago Maroons (rival of Michigan in the early days) coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, praised Jewett calling him "a very tough opponent". George Jewett was the arguably, the greatest star of Michigan Football pre-Yost era.
Also the first African American to play at Northwestern. He transferred to their med school after a run-in with U-M's dean of medicine.
And now I know for whom Jewett Avenue was named.
The circle isn't helping. Horace Prettyman is still the only person I can notice in that picture.
weren't there any two-a-days back then?
They look like they're just waiting for someone to wheel in the hookah pipe!
I am currently taking John Bacon's class and we talked about this very topic not too long ago. If anyone wants to gain a better understanding of the history of college athletics, in particular that of Michigan athletics, I highly, HIGHLY reccomend you take his class. It fills up quickly, but its been one of the best classes I've had at Michigan.
No, but the Rodriguez loyalists are going to point out that this fine bit of sportswriting sure didn't appear in the Freep.
From the OP:
We can be thankful for Michigan, for men like Gerald Ford and Willis Ward. We can be thankful for current men like John U. Bacon. And we can be thankful that there is indeed a Michigan way, a right way, to do things. Or, as Coach Hoke quipped, "This is Michigan, fergodsakes."
With great writing and history like this, and great teaching within the University you would think that Brandon and the Athletic Department would soften any hardened position against Bacon, wouldn't you?
Can everyone just shut up about Lloyd already? Lloyd lead Michigan to their first National Championship since 1948. Lloyd learned from the best: Glen Edward "Bo" Schembechler.
Lloyd is only one of three coaches in Michigan Football HISTORY to win 100 games. He ranks #3 all-time in winningest coaches here. Sure he struggled at the end of his career, but I can't put all of the blame on the losses to ohio on him. After all, ohio CHEATED during that time period with the trash of a coach in tressel they had.
I never had any doubt in Lloyd and always believed in him. When things started off terribly in 2007, I believed he would turn the team around because I had the confidence in him because I knew he was a great leader.
rich rod, ranks dead last in winning percentage at Michigan. Yes, last. Mike Murphy & Frank Crawford have a higher winning percentage at Michigan then him. Not to mention the constant fear I had going into games.
That's the past. Let's focus on now because I LOVE the way things are going and I LOVE Brady Hoke.
Nobody said anything about Carr, except in jesting reference to John U. Bacon.
I didn't mention Carr at all, nor anything to do with him.
Then you go OFF on Rich Rodriguez. Some of you guys need some therapy or something. Whatever. Someday, you may get over it. In the meantime, you can love you some Brady Hoke. Your fear of "going into games" can probably be managed with medication.
Lloyd loyalists, and I had no problem with this thread, nor 3&Out. Not every person who loves Lloyd like I personally do and always have act like a # delusionalsucker
BRCE, is that you?
I have to hope that this was poor editing on the Detnews part, but the JUB article doesnt make any mention or refence to the ~1hr long documentary "Black and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game". (John is interviewed on camera at times in the documentary.)
If it weren't for the documentary, I think this is a story that would have remained forgotten by most. While not our finest moment as a school, at least we were ahead of the times by inviting Ward to be on scholarship and at UofM at a time when others wouldnt, for the most part the student body rallied on Wards behalf when the GT situation arose, and to his credit, Yost did seem to learn from this experience and had some personal growth during his tenure at UofM when it came to racism. Apparently later on Yost stuck up for Willis when the Palmer House Hotel in chicago (where big ten was formed) wanted to preclude willis from staying there with the team. Yost forced their hand, threatening that Michigan and the BigTen would never stay there again if they didnt allow Ward to stay with the team.
extensive recap of the documentary from mgoarchive: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/black-and-blue-review
Documentary Trailer: (if my embed fails its at @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAxx5UzKqPA
Yost didn't like blacks and catholics, I'm sure the Irish weren't high on his list, and you can probably include Italians, any type of Eastern European, or anyone east of Poland to the Pacific for that matter.
Who did Yost like? Starting to run out of "Yost-eligible" players
You mean Yost wouldn't get swept up in Linsanity?
Not to get too deep in to this, but one of the areas that Yost did not hold a relatively common early 20th century prejudice was against Jews, which is how you get Benny Freidman playing quarterback for Yost in the mid-1920s.
How many of us decided right after we left our parent's house that we would toss out everything they had taught us because we knew they were wrong? My guess is not too damn many.
Our nation is a reflection of the individuals it is made up of. We now have a black commander-in-chief, something that would have been unheard of even when I was growing up in the 60s. If Yost had been born right here in this state, been parented by a couple who understood the makeup of a man is not predetermined by pigmentation, he would have, undoubtedly held different views when he had reached the age of majority.
It takes a long time to get rid of the baggage our parents placed on us, especially when so many of our peers hold the same baggage. Many of our great presidents were racists due to no other reason than of the widely held misconceptions that held during the years in which they happened to have lived. Times change, churches change, philosophies change. It is my guess had Yost been born post '50-'55, he would have held a completely different set of values.
To hold a man accountable posthumously is quite a stretch. Jesse Jackson is an unadulerated racist, liar and adulterer. Nothwithstanding those character flaws, would it be fair to attempt to mitigate the changes he inspired and were later brought to fruition because he had the courage to speak of them publicly?
Perhaps our greatest AD ever and following coaches were racists by association? I think not. Judge a man by the era in which he lived, not by the standards in place years after his expiration date.
One nitpick about the article: there were a few African-American players between 1892 and 1932, but apparently none of them got into a game.
A Bentley article says that "during Fielding Yost's tenure as coach several black students did join the football squad, but it appears that none of them ever saw game action and only one earned even a "reserve letter."
judge someone's behavior when you look through your perspective a hundered years later. During Yost's time it was socially exceptable to think in those terms and he was probably raised that way as well (without knowing his parents). Im sure a hundred years from now, there will be people who will view our behavior as backwards. Just wondering, does anybody in ann arbor protest to get the names of the buildings changed, given the history of Yost or others?
Who among us are without flaws? Who among us can safely say that their actions and beliefs are beyond reproach? I'd say none.
Fielding H. Yost was a racist. So was Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, etc, etc. This is not justification for their beliefs need no justifying. They believed what they believed because, like us, they were people of their time. Their greatness is also not in doubt.
Yost was a racist, but without him UM football would not be what it is. That fact alone warrants his name on a building. You cannot tuck him away in a corner some place because you find his views on race to be repulsive. That would be engaging in historical dishonesty AND an injustice towards Yost. Yost made Michigan football. You cannot gloss over this fact. By trying to remove him you are trying to alter history. That is not just. You don't fight injustice by being unjust yourself. You deal with the disagreeable parts of a honored person's past by being honest about it. You denounce the words and beliefs, but not the man. You forgive, but don't forget.
The simple truth is that those who lived in the past thought differently then we do today. If we banished from histories of our nation all those who espoused beliefs that we find abhorrent, our history would scarcely fill a paragraph.
We as a nation have to find a happy medium between blindly celebrating our heroes of the past and mindlessly damning them. Surely a nation as great and flawed as ours can do that.