Meet the two men who broke the color barrier for football in Alabama

Two Tennessee Valley men started for UNA September 21, 1968. They had no idea they were making history.

Posted: Nov 4, 2018 9:14 AM
Updated: Nov 5, 2018 10:47 AM

When Leonard "Rabbit" Thomas and Bobby Joe Pride started for UNA football back on September 21, 1968, they had no idea they were making history. 

The two Tennessee Valley natives were the first African American football players to play for a predominately white school in Alabama. 

"The outside stuff didn't get to our team. We were all like brothers," Pride said.

It wasn't until several weeks later that they realized their impact went beyond the football field. 

"Someone brought me a Jet magazine," Pride said. "The guy who showed me said do you know what you've done?" Thomas said. "I said no."

"It was an article about me and Leonard, and that's how I found out we were part of history."

On Saturday, UNA honored the 1968 football team before kickoff against Shorter. Both Thomas and Pride spoke to the Lions in the locker room before kickoff. 

The team had lunch together before the game, and they got to sit in the stands together while cheering on current players wearing the Florence State throwback logo. 

Thomas and Pride said it was a special day being back with their old teammates. 

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