The story of a young Gerald Ford and his friend and teammate, Willis Ward, came to life at the 2019 Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Annual Dinner in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 2019. The special live performance of ‘Victors of Character: a Story of Loyalty, Integrity, and the Courage to Make a Difference’ is a continuation of other performances hosted by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.
The live theater performance was written by Grand Valley State University professor and playwright, Dr. Allison Manville Metz. Based on a true story, the play tells the story of a young Gerald Ford who, as a student and athlete at the University of Michigan, witnessed the heartache and division caused by racial discrimination when his best friend, Willis Ward, was benched from a game against Georgia Tech because of the Jim Crow laws of the south. The play allows the audience to experience not only the events of 1934, but also to learn how this experience shaped both Ford and Ward as leaders later in life.
For those interested in learning more about this story, the documentary titled
“Black and Blue: the Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward, and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game”
is available for purchase on Amazon as well as in the Museum’s gift shop.