The recently crowned Alabama Class 6A state title-winning Ramsay football team was always on a mission, whether they knew it or not. When they finally crossed the finish line, hoisting a state championship trophy overhead, Birmingham’s Ramsay high had ended the lingering legacy of racism, and the choppy waters created by forced desegregation.
As noted by AL.com, Ramsay’s state title was the first by a Birmingham public school in 40 years, since the school district (the state’s farthest) was forced to desegregate in 1975. The win was a notable one for the school and district, a feat which wasn’t lost on the team or its proud coach.
“It’s the People’s Trophy,” Ramsay coach Reuben Nelson told AL.com. “It’s not about us. It’s about the City of Birmingham.”
Incredibly, the team that won the ‘People’s Trophy’ for Birmingham started because a band parent wanted her son to be able to play the sax during Friday night games. That led a movement to bring back Ramsay’s dormant football program, which hadn’t competed since 1976. That was 2012. Five years later, still struggling without any modern amenities, Ramsay is the state champion, a fitting accomplishment for a school which has also risen academically, adding international baccalaureate classes and national honors.
“I just want to thank the guys who were here before me who said they wanted football and even wanted to start a team,” said Ramsay quarterback Baniko Harley, MVP of the state championship game. “They played a JV season and went through a 1-9 season. I thank them because they were the ones who actually started it.”