Willie Brown's Sunday SF Chronicle Column Features Celebration of Burl A. Toler: "When he died, he was African American" | USF in the News | Scoop.it

....I was out at the University of San Francisco the other day for the ceremony renaming the Phelan student dorm to honor the late Burl Toler.


Toler was one of two blacks on the undefeated 1951 University of San Francisco football team. It might have been the best team in the country, but the players refused a chance to play in the Orange Bowl because the people who ran the game wouldn’t let the Dons take the field with an African American.


Toler, a linebacker, was drafted by the Cleveland Browns but tore up his knee in the college all-star game. He never played a game in the pros — instead, he went into teaching and eventually became the first black referee in the NFL.


Toler’s son, Burl Toler II, pointed out how much times changed during his dad’s life.


“When he played for the Dons, he was colored,” Toler said. “When he became an NFL referee, he was Negro. When he became the principal of Benjamin Franklin Middle School, he was black. And when he died, he was African American.”


[via San Francisco Chronicle]