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Ask anyone from Texas, and they’ll tell you high school football is basically a religion in the Lone Star State. Even those who don’t enjoy the sport find themselves wound up in small-town rivalries or big-city squabbles for the state title.

As the stands fill up to partake in this staple of Texas culture, and the nation squabbles over NFL players’ protests against racial injustice during the national anthem, a new book about the racial history of high school football in Texas will be released this month.

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Shining a light on the institution during the Jim Crow era, Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas is written by Michael Hurd, director of the Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture. While schools and their football teams were “separate but equal,” Hurd shows things were not exactly “equal.”

Despite the hurdles stacked against them, all-black football teams during Jim Crow managed to produce championship teams and gifted players who would leave their mark on the history of the sport.

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Published by the University of Texas Press, the forthcoming book contains photographs showing the players and their games. Through this book, Hurd continues to work to preserve black history in the state.

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