What Barack Obama is to American presidents, Willie Lanier was to linebackers in professional football. Both were the first people of color to take leadership roles in positions once reserved exclusively for Caucasians. Today, most of us judge people by the content of their characters and not by the color of their skin. But that wasn’t the case when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted the 1963 graduate of Maggie L. Walker High School later that decade. The conventional wisdom of the day was that a black man didn’t have the intellectual abilities to play middle linebacker. After a 10-year, Hall of Fame career in the AFL and NFL that included leading the Chiefs to a win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, the Richmond native proved the absurdity of that racist sentiment. On Wednesday, Aug. 10, Richmond Times-Dispatch sports columnist Paul Woody sits down with the football legend for the discussion, “A Chat with Willie and Woody” at the Virginia Historical Society. The hour-long interview runs from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tickets are $4-$6. Call 358-4901 or visit vahistorical.org.
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