CANTON, OHIO – The Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) and the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) have announced a historic partnership that provides the BCFHOF with a permanent home at the PFHOF as a part of the new Hall of Fame Village, a $500 million development of the PFHOF’s campus.
The two organizations will also work together on joint programs and events including: hosting the annual BCFHOF induction ceremony at Hall of Fame Village; expanded educational programming and special events at the PFHOF during Black History Month; a travelling exhibition; and post-graduate internship opportunities for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The partnership also includes a future BCFHOF HBCU Classic to be held at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton and a major permanent exhibition inside the PFHOF.
“So many members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and countless numbers of their teammates had a road to greatness paved through Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Hall of Fame President David Baker shared. “Their journey is an important part of the history of the Game that must not be forgotten. This partnership with the Black College Football Hall of Fame will provide insight into what shaped the lives of so many Heroes of this Game and will serve as great inspiration to generations of fans.”
Twenty-nine of the 303 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (nearly 10%) played at an HBCU. Three members of the PFHOF (Mel Blount, Willie Lanier and Art Shell) serve on the BCFHOF’s Board of Trustees. Lanier is also a member of the PFHOF’s Board of Trustees.
The BCFHOF was founded in 2009 by two legendary NFL quarterbacks and African-American pioneers James Harris and Doug Williams. Under their leadership, the BCFHOF has continued to grow, providing a meaningful platform to share the history and stories of the greatest HBCU football players, coaches, and contributors.
A star quarterback at Grambling State University, Harris was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round of the 1969 combined AFL-NFL Draft. As a rookie he became the NFL’s first African-American to start full-time at quarterback. Later, while with the Los Angeles Rams, he became the first African-American quarterback to be named to the Pro Bowl (1975) and to start and win a NFL playoff game. Harris played with the Bills (1969-1971), the Rams (1973-76) and the San Diego Chargers (1977-79).
“All of us associated with the Black College Football Hall of Fame look forward to working with the team at the Pro Football Hall of Fame to elevate the story of the greatest African-American players, coaches and contributors who persevered and overcame great obstacles to achieve their dreams,” Harris stated.
Williams, who also excelled at Grambling, was taken in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a member of the Washington Redskins, he made history as the first African-American quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. His then-record 340 yards passing and 4 TDs in Super Bowl XXII earned him Most Valuable Player honors, also a first. Williams played with the Buccaneers (1978-1982) and the Redskins (1986-89) and two seasons with the USFL Oklahoma/Arizona Wranglers (1984-85).
“The Black College Football Hall of Fame is thrilled to have its permanent home in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Williams offered. “This special partnership will allow us to preserve black college football history for generations to come.”
The BCFHOF Induction will be held in Canton in each year. The BCFHOF’s annual Inductee Dinner and Golf Classic will continue in Atlanta where it has been held since its founding.
Revenue to support the initiatives will be raised primarily through donations, grants, fund raising events, and merchandise sales.
Located in Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of the National Football League, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Mission is to Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values, & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.
Hundreds of thousands of fans from across the globe travel to Canton annually to experience the exciting museum that chronicles America’s most popular sport. Millions more are reached through the Hall of Fame’s 100-plus special events held annually outside Canton and through the multiple nationally broadcast programs focused on the selection of the newest Class of Enshrinees – Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., Tony Dungy, Brett Favre, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel – and the Enshrinement Weekend (Aug. 4-7, 2016). Now in its fourth year of traveling, Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a large-scale traveling exhibition that presents a panoramic view of pro football’s story and includes hundreds of artifacts from the Hall’s expansive collection. Gridiron Glory will be showcased at Virginia Historical Society from May 28-Sept. 4, 2016. From there it will travel to the Minnesota History Center Museum in Minneapolis/St. Paul and for three-month stays at various museums and cultural institutions through 2019. Enshrinees from the Class of 2016 along with numerous other Hall of Fame members will receive the spectacular Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence by Kay® Jewelers during ceremonies held in NFL stadiums during the 2016 NFL regular season. The Hometown Hall of Famer™ program presented by Ford honors Hall of Fame heroes with a program and permanent plaque to honor the Hall of Famer’s hometown support. Now in its 4th year, the US Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence honors 20 high school students nationally for excellence in community service, academics and athletics. Construction on HOF Village, a $476 million development project, is under way in Canton to transform the Hall of Fame’s campus.
For more information about the Pro Football Hall of Fame, please visit ProFootballHOF.com; @ProFootballHOF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Black College Football Hall of Fame was founded in 2009 by African-American pioneers, quarterbacks James Harris and Doug Williams to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There have been 64 Inductees since inception, including Mel Blount, James Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams, who serve as Trustees.