By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Throughout the year and as part of “Inspire Change” the Rams will recognize individuals that are doing critical work to create positive change in their communities.
At the season home finale against the San Francisco 49’ers the team recognized two pioneers who inspired not just the community but all of pro sports.
Ken Washington was signed by the Rams in March of 1946 becoming first African American to be on an NFL roster. Woody Strode signed with the Rams a few months later.
Karen Washington represented her father, Ken. When asked what did her farther impact coming into the NFL? “He changed everything,’ said Karin. “It has an effect even up to today.”
Washington was raised in Lincoln Heights and was a baseball and football star at Lincoln high School.
Pamela Larson Strode represented her father-in-law Woody,
Strode attended Jefferson high in South Los Angeles and later went on to UCLA where he had the skills of a world Class Decathlete.
Strode also became one of the first professional football players to become a successful film actor in Hollywood. During his acting career, he appeared in more than 25 films including John Ford’s Sergeant Rutledge (1960), The Ten Commandments (1956) Shalako (1968) and more. He played in Spartacus (1960) alongside Kirk Douglas.
“Woody” in Toy story was named after him.
The Los Angeles Rams “Inspire Change’’ efforts aim to create solutions that address community barriers and highlight stories and moments in Rams’ history that have inspired change on and off the field. Launched in 2019, Inspire Change is a league-wide platform that focuses on reducing barriers to opportunity and creating progress in education, economic advancement, community and police relations, and criminal justice reform
The Rams launched a “Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship” that will provide up to four years of financial support for 13 students from lower resourced communities. 13 was chosen as a tribute to Washington, who wore the number when he played for the Rams. The scholarship will be offered along with advisement support from the Fulfillment Fund a partner of the Los Angeles Rams. Proceeds from Sunday’s 50/50 raffle went to the fund the scholarships for the 13 students. At one point the contributions exceeded $300,000 dollars.
“Woody was the second African American to be the lead in his own film, ‘Sergeant Rutledge,’ which deals with race — a man wrongly accused of sexually attacking a white woman,” Larson Strode told the Bimidji Pioneer newspaper. “He was in 87 movies over the length of his career, though Strode is best known for starring in spaghetti Westerns.”