Former Detroit Public Schools superintendent John Telford, also known as a noted local activist and former world–ranked sprinter, will sign copies of his latest biography, Will the FIRST, The Saga of Sports/Civil Rights Pioneer Will Robinson, on Friday, August 7, at 3:30 p.m. at his lakeside home in St. Clair Shores.
Telford, who coached track, and the late Will Robinson, who coached basketball, mentored champions at Pershing High School during the 1960s. Both were All-Americans – Robinson as a quarterback at West Virginia State in 1936 and Telford as a sprinter at Wayne State University in 1957. Robinson’s teams, starring the likes of Spencer Haywood and “Bubbles” Hawkins at Pershing, and Sammy Gee and Charlie Primas at old Miller High won multiple titles.
Robinson was the first African-American coach in Detroit Public Schools, the first NCAA Division One African American head basketball coach, the first African American scout in professional sports, and the first African American executive in the NBA. At Illinois State, Robinson coached All-American Doug Collins, who later became a Pistons coach. Robinson, who passed away in 2008, served as an administrator with the Pistons into his nineties. He was instrumental in obtaining Joe Dumars and Isiah Thompson for the Pistons, and Lem Barney and Charley Sanders for the Lions, among many other stars, some who will attend on August 7.
Telford’s column ran in the Michigan Chronicle for many years, and his Sunday afternoon show airs live at 4:30 on WCHB NewsTalk1200. For more information about the upcoming book signing, email DrJohnTelfordEdD@aol.com for information.