Walking Alone: The Untold Journey of Football Pioneer Kenny Washington

Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2022. 248p. ISBN 9781538154366. $36. SPORTS
Taylor writes the first solo biography devoted to swivel-hipped tailback Kenny Washington (1918–71), who was the best known of the four Black athletes (the others being Woody Strode, Bill Willis, and Marion Motley) who broke the color barrier in American pro football in 1946. Washington was every bit the pioneer that his onetime UCLA baseball and football teammate Jackie Robinson was, but Washington’s legacy has been much more obscured, Taylor posits. (Though in recent years, Washington has been included in three group biographies that focused also on Strode, Willis, and Motley.) Washington was already 27 and hampered by bad knees by the time he was finally signed by the Los Angeles Rams in 1946, but teammate Bob Waterfield still called him the best player he ever saw. Based on archival research and the author’s interviews with Washington’s surviving family members, Taylor’s book is a fine read that elucidates Washington’s impacts on football and civil rights.
VERDICT A long-overdue thorough treatment of a largely forgotten giant in sports history; it should be widely read.
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