Duke Slater

Pioneering Black NFL Player and Judge


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About the Book

Fred “Duke” Slater was the greatest African American football player of the first half of the 20th century. Born into poverty, he developed into a two-time All-American tackle at the University of Iowa from 1918 to 1921. When the College Football Hall of Fame opened decades later, Duke was the only African American elected in the inaugural class. He then became the first black lineman in National Football League history in 1922, embarking on a remarkable ten-year career in the NFL.
Incredibly, Slater was the only African American in the entire NFL for most of the late 1920s, yet he was widely recognized as one of the League’s best linemen. But his pioneering influence extended beyond the gridiron. After retirement, he broke ground in the legal field as just the second black judge in Chicago history. On the field or on the bench, the inspirational life of Judge Duke Slater is a true American success story.

About the Author(s)

Neal Rozendaal is an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. He lives in Germantown, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Neal Rozendaal
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6957-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9294-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Foreword—The Gentle Giant, by Sherman Howard 1

Preface 3

Introduction 5

 1—George Slater’s Influence (1898–1912) 9

 2—A Football Journey Begins (1912–1913) 13

 3—The Pride of Clinton High (1914–1916) 20

 4—Spanish Flu and a World War (1916–1918) 31

 5—From Unknown to ­All-­American (1919) 42

 6—Overcoming Adversity (1920–1921) 51

 7—A Championship for the Hawkeyes (1921–1922) 60

 8—Coloring the Line (1922–1923) 76

 9—The Greatest Independent (1924–1925) 89

10—Sweet Home Chicago (1926–1927) 102

11—Last Man Standing (1928–1929) 115

12—A Brilliant Finish (1930–1931) 125

13—Fighting Against Exclusion (1931–1940) 138

14—From the Field to the Bench (1941–1951) 150

15—Truly Superior (1951–1959) 158

16—Death of a Pioneer (1959–1966) 168

17—A Legend in His Lifetime (1966–1972) 176

18—Fading from Memory (1973–2012) 184

Appendices 191

A. Records and Point Totals 191

B. The Games 192

C. Coaching Career 194

D. All-­Pro Selections 195

E. African Americans in the NFL 196

F. Pre-­World War II ­All-­Pro Selections 196

Chapter Notes 198

Bibliography 209

Index 211