Former Rocky Mountain News editor to sign books in Grand Lake
July 14, 2010
Author Denny Dressman, a part-time resident of Grand County for more than 20 years, will sign copies of his latest book, titled Eddie Robinson ” . . . he was the Martin Luther King of football,” at Cascades Bookshop in Grand Lake on Saturday, July 17, from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
The book, Dressman’s fourth, places the athletic accomplishments and social contributions of the legendary African American coach in the context of Jim Crow segregation and the civil rights movement. It has earned Finalist honors in both the biography category of the Colorado Book Awards and the historical non-fiction competition of the Next Generation Indie National Book Awards.
“It is a poignant and powerful story of a humble life that had monumental impact,” Chris Fowler of ESPN said after reading Dressman’s account, which is the first biography written on Robinson, who sent more than 200 players into pro football and was the first coach to win more than 400 college games during a 57-year career at the tiny Louisiana school.
“Denny Dressman makes a compelling case that Eddie Robinson’s contribution to American history was not confined to sports,” wrote Denver Post sports columnist Dave Krieger. “His biography of this sports icon is also a social history of race relations in the U.S. from Jim Crow to the 21st century.”
In an interview published in USA Today, Dressman said he wrote Robinson’s biography to preserve the history of the heyday of black college football – before integration ended the talent monopoly Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) enjoyed – and to acquaint generations of Americans about the civil rights movement and the conditions under which Robinson made Grambling a household name on par with Notre Dame.
“I was struck by the realization that Americans born in the 1960s or later really have no concept of Little Rock or Montgomery or Birmingham or any of the major points in the civil rights movement,” he told Reid Cherner of USA Today.
“And for all of them, Martin Luther King was never a living, breathing person, and for that reason most of them can’t appreciate someone like Eddie Robinson. Or the difference of athletics now and what it was in that period. I would hope that anyone who picks up the book comes away with a greater realization between the difference of now and then.”
The subtitle of the book, Dressman says, is based on a comment made by one of Robinson’s coaching contemporaries, W. C. Gorden of Jackson State, upon learning of Robinson’s death at age 88 in 2007. “To me,” Gorden said, “he was the Martin Luther King of football.”
Dressman is a former senior editor and executive at the Rocky Mountain News, a former president of the Colorado Press Association and a member of the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame. He retired in 2007.
Cascades Bookshop is located at 1141 Grand Ave., Grand Lake. For more information, call 627-8166.