Before Bo Jackson, one of Birmingham’s first African American football stars was Tony Nathan.
The All-American running back’s rise to stardom during his junior season in 1973, along with the arrival of Head Coach Tandy Gerelds in 1971, led to the Woodlawn Colonels serving as catalysts for change and garnering crowds of thousands for game nights.
The 2015 “Woodlawn” documents Nathan’s struggle to balance his athletic skills and faith while battling racial anxiety on and off the field. The film also highlights the rivalry between the former Banks High School and Woodlawn High School. Many of the former Banks and Woodlawn players went on to play college football at SEC schools (mainly Alabama and Auburn) and professionally in the NFL.
But, one of Woodlawn’s most prominent alums is Bobby Bowden, who led Florida State to two national championships in the midst of becoming the winningest coach in college football history. Continue reading “Woodlawn: The Triumph of Tony Nathan”