From the book:
Gretchen Atwood is a former sports journalist with a passion for football, civil rights and American history. She lives in San Francisco.
A little more:
I grew up in Cape Girardeau, MO and started watching football with my grandfather at age 6 or 7. We’d throw a nerf football around and sometimes bet oreo cookies or M&Ms on the outcome of games. He took me to the St. Louis Cardinals training camp in St. Charles, MO and I got player autographs and don’t remember much else.
I always loved sports and went to plenty of St. Louis Cardinal baseball games at the old Busch Stadium. But football was my favorite sport and I continued watching it throughout grade school and high school as I myself got involved in sports, soccer then tennis.
Shortly after I got to Stanford University I joined the school newspaper, The Stanford Daily. I covered everything from track to wrestling, women’s soccer to volleyball. I also majored in International Relations with an emphasis on 20th century American History. Outside of the classroom and newsroom I got more involved in activism. First, I ran the Stanford LGBT Speakers Bureau program and later participated in campus actions in support of farm workers rights, Anita Hill, and faculty diversity.
Journalism was my first career choice then, and I did low-level work for the SF Chronicle and other publications before ending up at a tech trade publication. Through that job I rolled into Information Architecture and User Experience Design. It was the 1990s and the worldwide web was just starting to be treated as a commercial medium. I continued in UX work for 15 years while periodically supporting local and statewide movements (against prop 187 and 209 in CA, and later against prop 8).
After more than 10 years in UX design I wanted to return to my first loves: writing, history, social justice. And I wanted to find something I could do that would combine all three. While trying to figure out what that would be I happened to read Michael MacCambridge’s “America’s Game”. He mentions Kenny Washington and Woody Strode integrating pro football in 1946. I had read the names before but didn’t know they had come before Jackie Robinson made it to the major leagues in baseball (April 15, 1947).
I’d always thought I knew so little about the men who integrated pro football because they had come after Jackie. Clearly this wasn’t the case. So if they came before, why is it we know almost nothing about these guys? That question propelled on the path that has culminated in this book.