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...controversy surrounding a 1934 game between Michigan and Georgia Tech in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines' decision to sit their lone African-American player, Ward, appeasing the Jim Crow laws of their southern guests, created a stir on the U-M campus. And in the middle of it all was one of Ward's teammates, an All-America lineman from Grand Rapids named Gerald Ford, who was Ward's roommate.
Ford threatened to quit the team in response to Ward's benching. And though he eventually was convinced to play amid campus and community protests, Ford, our nation's 38th president, would later credit that incident — and his lifelong friendship with Ward — with shaping his views on race relations and his political stance on issues like voting rights and affirmative action.