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‘The Right Thing To Do’ Tells Story of Role ‘61 CU Boulder Team Played in Integrating College Football

‘The Right Thing To Do’ Tells Story of Role ‘61 CU Boulder Team Played in Integrating College Football


Tom Shanahan’s book tells a previously neglected story, bringing to light true champions of football integration

In the midst of their locker-room celebration of Iowa State in the 1961 College Football Playoffs, the University of Colorado Boulder Buff’s chose to take a stand.

“We didn’t care if we stayed in Miami Beach, but wherever we stayed, we were staying together and eating together as a team, or we weren’t going at all,” said Joe Romig, 1961 University of Colorado Boulder football team captain. (Shanahan, 2024, pp.77).

They explained to head coach, Sonny Grandelious, and Orange Bowl officials that they would only attend the 1961 Orange Bowl in Miami if treated as a team, not as Blacks and Whites.

Shanahan’s book, “The Right Thing To Do,” gives a detailed account of the Buffs’ stance against segregation in the ‘61 Orange Bowl and brings justice to many historic moments that the media has since failed to cover.

Shanahan covers the history of increasing Black football players, crediting Michigan State head coach Duffy Daughtery for starting a “domino effect” in the mid 1950s while addressing myths about who were the real pioneers of football integration — including debunking the story that Alabama head coach Paul William “Bear” Bryant was a leader in integration.

The book documents how Daughtery ignored quotas for the number of Black players and established a fully integrated team, complete with Black team captains. In doing so, Daughtery created a blueprint that was spread coast to coast by those who learned under his leadership, including trailblazers Sherman Lewis and Jimmy Raye.

Shanahan walks readers through stories of football integration history that previously have gone unrecognized, living only by word of mouth while the media turned a blind eye. 

“I was fortunate to meet Jimmy Raye’s son and I said, ‘you know I don’t think the story of the football Underground Railroad has ever been properly told.’ The main reason I realized this was because the sports media of the 60’s generally avoided writing about race, so these moments went unrecognized,” said Shanahan. 

Shanahan’s detailed accounts of these moments brings justice to stories that have been previously overlooked.

The Boulder Bookstore held a book signing for “The Right Thing to Do” on May 7, 2024, where Shanahan sat alongside College Football Hall of Famer Joe Roemig and former CU Assistant Athletic Director John Meadows — both members of the ‘61 team that threatened to boycott the 1961 Orange Bowl in support of their Black teammates.

Shanahan is dedicated to spreading the story of “the true pioneers of college football integration” and emphasized that this is not just a story about CU Boulder or Duffy Daughtery and his disciples. 

“I want to make the country realize that this is a national story. It was just never properly told,” said Shanahan.

Shanahan’s book is a work of historic importance, giving credit where it is well overdue to the heroic sports figures responsible for the integration of college football in America.

Shanahan’s previous novel, “Raye of Light,” inspired the NFL360 documentary “The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye.” Raye was the first Black quarterback from the South to win a national championship and later went on to be a pioneering coach in college football and the NFL. 

Shanahan is now in the preliminary stages of building a documentary inspired by “The Right Thing to Do” alongside Colorado producer Vohn Regensburger

The vision for the film is a 4-part docuseries that maps the historical route of college football integration from 1954 through the voices of the individuals who lived it — and they are up against the clock.

“Testimonials are super important for this story, especially as people age, we want to get these stories before they pass on. I think that is an important part of it. We are trying to tell the stories of multiple colleges to capture how integration spread across the country and changed the face of college football forever,” said Regensburger.

Shanahan and Regensburger voiced that CU Boulder and all of their sources have been supportive in this effort and are helping them collect information to tell the story.

“I read a quote recently that said, ‘We have to tell the stories of living history or they fade away. To restore them, they must be told and retold.’ We are taking on this challenge: telling a story that has never been told and must be retold,” Shanahan emphasized.

To purchase “The Right Thing to Do,” view events and updates, visit Shanahan’s website at https://tomshanahan.report.


Jamie Miller
Jamie Miller graduated from the University of Georgia with bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Business Management. When she is not writing or working as a Business Consultant at Ernst & Young, she can be found exploring the Colorado mountains, checking out a local coffee shop or doing yoga. She aspires to produce diverse and valuable journalism for the world in the hopes that it inspires others to become lifelong learners who seek first to understand, then to be understood. Read her portfolio at https://jamiemillerorg.wordpress.com/

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