At the beginning of the season Coach Brookshire and his coaching staff warned African American players to be prepared for hostilities that they would almost certainly face. Because it was the South in the early 1960s amid the Civil Rights Movement, there were many white people who openly opposed the team’s integration. This was most obvious when the team was on the road. The team’s bus previously had windows broken and black ink thrown on it, the team would drive by racial slurs painted on buildings, African American players would have objects thrown at them from the stands. The team even went to the visitor’s locker room after a game in Greenville, Tennessee to find it had been flooded and all their clothes were thrown on the floor. Eating and finding lodging proved to be especially difficult when traveling to away games. The team often took the food back to the bus so everyone could eat together and in one instance the African American players had to spend the night in private homes because no motel or inn would allow them to stay.
Amid all of this, the young men on the team bonded and became a very good football team. The first game of the season was covered by The Charlotte Observer and reprinted in the National Observer. When Paul Scruggs was put in by Coach Brookshire in the second half a hush came over the stadium, except for a few hoots which Scruggs ignored. The first time he got his hands on the ball he scored a tie-breaking touchdown. As described later by Lloyd Fisher, a white guard, and co-captain, “After Paul scored that first touchdown, all the crowd was a little less racist than they were before. And when he scored the second touchdown, they were almost cured.” In all, four of Brevard’s scores came from African American players, spurring Brevard to a win in their season opener.
The Brevard Blue Devils rolled through the regular season, with only one blemish: a 7-17 loss in Greenville, Tennessee, where the referees clearly intervened to keep Brevard from winning. After going 10-1, the team made it to the state AAA championship game against Reidsville. The game was to be played on Friday, November 22nd, however, it was postponed after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that day. The teams decided to play the game the following day, but it was clear that no one’s heart was in it. The crowd and players were mostly silent, according to Coach Brookshire the atmosphere was more like a wake, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Brevard and Reidsville were declared co-champions and Brevard was allowed to bring home the actual trophy after winning a coin flip.
Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Aaron Bland
Image: Brevard High School football team, courtesy of the Hendersonville Times-News via blueridgenow.com
“Blue Devils Are AAA Co-Champs.” November 28, 1963. Transylvania Times (Brevard, NC)
“Brevard Junior, Senior High Schools Completely Integrated.” March 14, 1963. The
“High School Sports Briefs.” September 29, 1963. Greensboro Daily News
“The Championship Trophy.” November 28, 1963. Transylvania Times (Brevard, NC)
Brevard High School yearbook: The Brevardier, 1964 edition.
Gary, Kays. “This is About a Football Game, One That Brevard Won't Forget.” Charlotte
Transylvania County Board of Education (Brevard, NC). Minutes of weekly meetings, May 9,
1962 – April 2, 1963. Archives, Eugene M. Morris Education Center, Brevard, NC.