The 2018-2019 season of Victors of Character: a Story of Loyalty, Integrity, and the Courage to Make a Difference continued on February 21st and 22nd in the auditorium of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The play is based on the true events of 1934, when a young Gerald Ford was faced with a challenge that both revealed and tested his character. Willis Ward, Ford’s African American friend and University of Michigan teammate, was omitted from a game against Georgia Tech because of the Jim Crow laws of the South. Through live theater, students watch as those events unfold and learn about how it motivated both Ford and Ward to work toward a society that guaranteed civil rights for all.
Over 800 students from a variety of public, private, and charter schools throughout West Michigan took part in the performances in February. For many students, seeing the play may be the first introduction they have to President Ford and is often the first live theater performance they’ve attended. Each show includes a “talk back” at the end, during which students are able to ask questions and interact with the cast members. Hearing their reflections on the story is always a powerful experience.
Many thanks to the generous sponsors that make this experience possible at no cost to schools: Mercantile Bank, Grand Valley State University, The Gremel Group, Susan and Bob Brown, Andrew and Meredith Gremmel, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, Dr. Robert Humphries and Mrs. Marie Zerweck, and Warner Norcross + Judd LLP.