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Bobby Grier Desegregates the Sugar Bowl


Pitt’s Bobby Grier became the first African American to play in the Sugar Bowl when the Panthers battled Georgia Tech in New Orleans, La., on January 2, 1956.

Before the game, Georgia’s governor suggested that Panthers standout defensive back Grier should stay home rather than break the bowl’s traditional color line. Pitt replied, “No Grier. No game.”

Grier did play, and Pitt lost 7–0, due largely to a controversial penalty call against him. But the loss did not change the impact of Grier’s participation. "I learned that things were going to change and things were a changin'," Grier reflected 50 years later. "It showed that sports has a way to change a whole lot of things."