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Posted on 02/09/2022
Los Angeles City Seal

On Wednesday, Councilman Price honored Kenny Washington, the first Black NFL Player in Council. Mr. Washington, a native Angeleno, was born in 1918 in Los Angeles, to a Black American father and a Jamaican mother. He attended Lincoln High School where he was a star athlete. While there, he led the school’s baseball and football teams to City titles.

Mr. Washington went on to attend UCLA where he became a standout athlete in baseball and football gaining so much notoriety he was dubbed “General Washington” by the Los Angeles Times. Following his illustrious collegiate career at UCLA, Mr. Washington played in numerous integrated professional football leagues. Although he had the talent to play in the National Football League (NFL), he was not signed by any team because of the “gentleman’s agreement” that NFL team owners used to unofficially ban Black players from the NFL.

Black sportswriters played an integral role in helping Mr. Washington break the NFL’s color barrier. When word got out about the Rams moving from Cleveland to Los Angeles, Black sportswriters launched a major campaign encouraging the team to sign him. In 1946, Washington signed with the Rams and made his debut in Chicago. While in the NFL, Mr. Washington overcame significant hurdles as he often was the subject of racial epithets from both fans and players and also dealt with significant injuries that ultimately cut his NFL career short.

Between his stints playing football, Mr. Washington tried his luck in acting as he starred in While Thousands Cheer, one of the few full-length football films produced between 1920 and 1960, and also worked as a police officer in the LAPD, where he placed 39th out of 1,837 candidates who took the Department’s entrance exam. This NFL season marked the 75th anniversary of Mr. Washington’s achievement.

To honor him, Councilman Price introduced a resolution and on Wednesday it was approved to mark Feb 13, 2022 Kenny Washington Day in the City of Los Angeles. This date is extremely fitting for this occasion as the world turns its eyes to Los Angeles to watch Super Bowl 56 between our Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.