Columbus - 

The Ohio House today approved legislation jointly sponsored by  State Representatives Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) and Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) designating February 3rd as “Charles Follis Day” in honor of the first African American professional football player.

Charles Follis was born on February 3, 1879 and would go on to play 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 Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He also received a proclamation from the City of Shelby, and Wooster High School named its football field “Follis Field” in his honor.

“I believe this local hero and legend is still relatively unknown in our community and throughout the state,” Rep. Romanchuk said. “It is my hope that the passage of this legislation will bring greater awareness of who Charles Follis is and what he accomplished for African American athletes.”

Known as the “Black Cyclone” for his tenacity in athletics, Follis overcame many trials and barriers on the field, and off, before his death in 1910. 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.

“Charles Follis embodies the American Dream, where one can relentlessly pursue their passion and build the life they envision for themselves and their family,” Rep. Wiggam said. “I am proud of the legacy Mr. Follis has established in Wayne County, and it is an honor to join Rep. Romanchuk to ensure Mr. Follis’ memory is always recognized.”

House Bill 229 will now head to the Senate for further consideration.

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