COLUMBUS—State Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) applauded Governor Kasich for signing legislation that designates February 3rd as “Charles Follis Day” in honor of the first African American professional football player.
Charles Follis was born on February 3, 1879 in Virginia. While a young child, Follis' family moved to Wooster in Wayne County and started the Wooster High School football program. Later he played professionally for the Shelby Blues in Richland County. In recognition of his many accomplishments on the football field, Follis was honored with a placard at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, received a proclamation from the City of Shelby, and was recognized by Wooster High School after they designated their football field as “Follis Field.”
"It was at Wooster High School in Wayne County where Charles Follis established a name for himself through his hard work, positive attitude, and passion for the game of football,” said Wiggam.
Known as the “Black Cyclone” for his tenacity in athletics, Follis overcame many trials and barriers on and off the field. During a time of residual racial tension in America, Follis became a trailblazer in the African American community and a sports legend among fellow football players, historians and enthusiasts alike. Follis died from pneumonia in 1910 and was buried in Wooster Cemetery.
Rep. Wiggam joint sponsored House Bill 229 with State Representative Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario).