MildredMoss.GramblingU.SocialUsage

In the United States, students play sports on school-sponsored teams from primary school to college, and most schools were racially segregated until the 1960s, with Black schools chronically underfunded. Still, a Louisiana college called Grambling State University managed to build very successful programs and compete for national titles, which often meant traveling to big Northern cities, playing White teams and undergoing constant public scrutiny in hotels and restaurants. A Grambling home economics professor named Mildred Moss was one of Coach Eddie Robinson’s secret weapons; she prepared her country boys for the spotlight by teaching an etiquette course called Social Usage, ending in a final exam testing the players’ performance at a formal dinner. Grambling athletes were known for conducting themselves with dignity and decorum, in defiance of racist expectations; they were well-dressed and well-behaved, and knew which fork was which. She made them champions off the field like Robinson made them winners on it. That era has passed, and Professor Moss died this month at 93, as much a legend in her field as Robinson was in his – one of the best there ever was. (Reportage: The New York Times)

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