Former Alabama RB Ralph Stokes Joins the Gary Harris Show
Former Alabama running back, Ralph Stokes, stopped by The Gary Harris Show on Tuesday to discuss his recent book and his experience as one of the first African-American players to suit up for the Crimson Tide.
Stokes joined the Tide in 1971, just a single season after Wilbur Jackson became the first African-American scholarship athlete to join the football team, and played under the legendary coach Paul Bryant until 1974, compiling 337 yards on 72 carries in his three seasons.
After the closure of his previous high school, Booker T. Washington high, in 1969, Stokes enrolled at, the freshly integrated, Robert E. Lee High School for 1970. Prior to Stokes' arrival, alongside many of his former classmates from the all-black Booker T. Washington high, Lee had fielded just a single African-American athlete the year prior.
"It was a unique opportunity for us because at Booker T. Washington we had a strong history of winning football in an all-black community," Stokes said.
Booker T. Washington High School was split and divided among four schools within Montgomery, sending Stokes and just a few of his teammates to Lee High School.
"When I was assigned to it, I had no idea where the school was," Stokes continued, "The community wasn't exactly welcoming, calling us names, telling us we weren't needed, but our coaching staff did a tremendous job of bringing us together and teaching us to overcome some of our predetermined prejudices.
The 1970 Lee Generals finished 13-0, dominating nearly every opponent faced, and won the school's second state title in as many years. After an incredible season, Stokes and two of his teammates joined the Crimson Tide, eventually helping coach Bryant take home his fourth national title in 1973.
"My experience at the University of Alabama was great. I'm sure there were some very racist people on campus at that time, but we didn't feel very much of it. Our coaches, our staff and our teammates made sure we had a great experience," Stokes said, closing down the interview.