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William Lewis


William Henry Lewis

Inducted 2009

Date of Birth



Berkley, VA


Harvard University (1892-1893)

Amherst College (1889-1891)


The first ever African-American to earn first-team All-America honors, William Lewis helped Harvard compile a daunting 22-2 record during his career with the Crimson .Born in Virginia, Lewis started college when he was 15 at Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State University), the state’s first college for African-Americans. He then transferred to Amherst College where he played three seasons before attending Harvard Law. Named Harvard’s first African-American team captain, he became an All-American center. After his playing career, Lewis was an assistant coach at Harvard for 12 years and wrote one of the first "how to books" on playing football. During that time he proposed the “neutral zone” rule that was adopted to lessen the brutality of the game at the line of scrimmage before the snap. Elected to the legislature in 1901 and named assistant U.S. attorney general for Boston in 1903, U.S. President William Howard Taft later appointed him as an assistant U.S. attorney general.


Height 5'11

Weight 175

Career Highlights

  • 1893 Consensus All-America
  • 1892 Consensus All-America
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