"He always expected to be the best, and although life did not always go according to his plan, he never faltered in his pursuit of love, justice, and joy."

Sanford “Sandy” Stephens, well known in the annals of college football, was a determined, talented sportsman and outspoken proponent of human rights. His sister, author Foster, paints a picture of their strict but loving upbringing: both parents were members of the NAACP, and civil rights were a topic often discussed within the family. Sandy had a direct, bitter experience of segregation when he and some black friends visited Washington, DC, after their exemplary work in the school patrol. Relegated to rundown quarters and scant, inferior meals compared to the white boys in the group, Sandy became, a friend recalls, “a vociferous advocate of equal rights.” Adept in all school sports, he became the first black American college quarterback. At the University of Minnesota, his skill propelled the Gophers twice to the Rose Bowl. His honors included induction into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame, and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

Foster constructed this tribute with significant contributions from Sandy, as they had planned his biography together before he passed away. She shows him progressing from a dutiful, if occasionally mischievous, boy to a well-respected man who fulfilled his family and societal obligations, worked to get through college, and, once a celebrity, gave back to his community through numerous worthy causes. Many friends also contributed to this homage to a likable man who was not afraid to dream big dreams. One contributor states that Sandy was a “pioneer” in the fight for equal opportunity for all athletes. He admired such predecessors as Jim Thorpe and Jackie Robinson, finding inspiration in their struggles and accomplishments. And, Foster would say, he has joined their ranks. Her well-organized, intelligent perspective shares the hope that his achievements will serve as motivation for others.

Return to USR Home