Ernie Davis

Mo had his 1st big presentation at school.

He made an 8 minute presentation about a Person Who Made A Difference. Each child was to research, talk about, and dress as someone in history they felt made a difference. Since Mo is athletic and into sports, I knew he was gonna choose an athlete. After a lot of internet searches and suggestions from friends, he chose ERNIE DAVIS.

I had so much fun helping Mo with this project bc I enjoyed learning about Ernie’s history and accomplishments.

On the football field, Ernie was a force for Syracuse University and became the 1st African American to win the Heisman trophy. He went on to become the 1st African American #1 draft pick in the NFL. On and off the field he seemed unphased by the intense racial prejudices prevalent during the 1960’s. He became a symbol of class and achievement that transcended race.

I was really happy that Mo enjoyed learning about history. He was even excited about doing the oral presentation in front of a group of classmates and parents. I’m so glad his 1st public speaking experience was such a positive one.

Here’s a poem Mo wrote about the football great:


by Morris Moore

I am brave and tough.

I wonder who will win the Heisman trophy next.

I hear the crowd yelling at me.

I see the football players.

I want to win.

I am brave and tough.


I pretend I never lost a game.

I feel the air from people shouting.

I touch the ball.

I worry the crowd might hurt me.

I cry when I am hurt.

I am brave and tough.


I understand everybody loses.

I say believe in yourself.

I dream everyone gets along.

I try my best.

I hope black and white people are treated the same.

I am brave and tough.


And some Ernie Davis facts:

Ernie Davis Biography

December 14, 1939 – May 18, 1963

*Grew up in Elmira, NY

*1st black athlete to be awarded the Heisman Trophy (1961)

*1st African American picked #1 in NFL Draft (1962)

*1st African American to pledge Sigma Alpha Mu (fraternity to Marv Albert, David Stern, and Steve Wynn to name a few)

*Syracuse University retired his jersey #44

*The Cleveland Browns retired his jersey #45

*He never got to play a single game in the NFL

*He was 23 years old when he died from Leukemia

*Praised for his high integrity, great character, athletic ability during a time when USA was dealing with intense racial turmoil

*Movie called, The Express starring Dennis Quaid made about his life

In 1962 at Ernie’s funeral, a message from President Kennedy was read aloud to all of the people attending the service.

In 1963, Ernie was honored by his high school in Elmira, NY with a school holiday. President John F. Kennedy followed Ernie’s college career and wanted to meet him. He sent the following via telegram:

“Seldom has an athlete been more deserving of such a tribute. Your high standards of performance on the field and off the field, reflect the finest qualities of competition, sportsmanship and citizenship. The nation has bestowed upon you its highest awards for your athletic achievements. It’s a privilege for me to address you tonight as an outstanding American, and as a worthy example of our youth. I salute you.”


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