Marion Motley biography breaks through lines | Book Talk

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The “lines” in the title of “Breaking Through the Lines: The Marion Motley Story” by former Beacon Journal sportswriter David Lee Morgan Jr. mostly refer to the lines of racism and segregation, as Motley was one of the first Black players in the NFL. He also broke records.

Motley was born in Georgia but moved with his family to Canton, a city with employment opportunities thanks to its steel mills and manufacturing, but also with a high crime rate and open Klan presence. Motley showed an aptitude for football in his early teens and was accepted on his junior high school team.


According to Morgan, Motley was a construction worker for Fawcett Stadium (now Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium), site of the annual Hall of Fame Game. Later, as a Canton McKinley Bulldog, he would play in the first game in the still-unfinished stadium and score its first touchdown pass.

Despite Motley’s obvious talent, he found himself passed up for awards and college offers. Paul Brown, former coach of McKinley’s rival Massillon, described Motley as an “elite national talent,” yet Motley began at a small school in North Carolina before transferring to Nevada.

Motley’s career was marked by a mixture of targeted racism and acts of support: In college, he had legal trouble, and the campus and community members rallied to raise money for his defense. When Motley joined the newly created Browns in 1946, along with defensive end Bill Willis, another Black player, Brown made it clear to the rest of the team that “any player who had an issue with Motley or Willis wasn’t welcome.”

That didn’t protect Motley and Willis from the hostility of fans and opposing teams, whose aggressive players got away with brutality while officials looked the other way. It didn’t help with Art Modell when Motley, after his retirement, looked for a coaching job with the Browns.

“Breaking Through the Lines” (169 pages, softcover) costs $14.99 from Press Box Books. The foreword is by Warren native and Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Warfield. Morgan also was the co-producer of the Emmy-winning documentary “Lines Broken: The Story of Marion Motley.”

Morgan will talk about “Breaking Through the Lines” from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Middleburg Heights branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library, 16699 Bagley Road. Register at

‘Deep, Heavy Stuff’

After three collections of humorous essays, Jackson Township resident Don Ake takes a wide departure from his previous books in which he talks about “black market butt enhancement” and the quality of appetizers at business networking events. Here, in “Deep, Heavy Stuff,” he reflects on faith and his relationship with “The Man” and “The Creator.”

In two parts, “Remembering What’s Important in Life” and “Dealing with Hardship & Other Life Challenges, Ake concentrates on the topics of giving and receiving charity and exchanging “random acts of kindness” for “purposeful acts of kindness,” planning to be generous instead of stumbling on an opportunity, and his distaste for “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” His faith is most sorely tested: A deeply personal essay about his first daughter, who was born with devastating medical complications.


Ake gives guidance and encouragement to readers about death, gratitude, kindness, loyalty and friendship, and how to talk to a grieving person.

“Deep, Heavy Stuff: Thoughts and Essays for Enriching Your Life,” costs $19 from Many of the essays appeared on Ake’s blog of the same name from 2020 to 2022.

“Deep, Heavy Stuff” (286 pages, softcover) costs $19 from Ake also is the author of humor essay collections “Just Make Me a Sammich!” and “Turkey Terror at My Door!”

Ake will talk about “Deep, Heavy Stuff” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, 352 E. Waterloo Road, Akron.


Cuyahoga County Public Library (Berea branch, 7 Berea Commons): Sharona Hoffman talks about “Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow,” 2 to 3 p.m. Monday. Register at

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-Snow branch, 2121 Snow Road): Rachel Renee Russell and her daughter, illustrator Nikki Russell, talk about “Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure,” 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday. The $15 ticket includes admission for two and a copy of the book. Thrity Umrigar talks to Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winner Karan Mahajan (“The Association of Small Bombs”) about her novel “The Museum of Failures,” featured Sept. 24 in Book Talk, 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. From 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, chef Eric Ripert discusses “Seafood Simple”; the $35 ticket includes a copy of the book. Register at

Cleveland Public Library (525 Superior Ave.): The Cleveland Reads Young Adult Book Festival, with the theme “Banned Books and Stories Unbound,” features Angela Davis (“Freedom Is a  Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement”), Justin Reynolds (“Shot Clock”), Leah Johnson (“You Should See Me in a Crown”), Rasheed Newson (“My Government Means to Kill Me”), Torrey Maldonado (“Hands: How Will You Use Them”), Maulik Pancholy (“Nikhil Out Loud”), Quartez Harris (“We Made It to School Alive”), Don P. Hooper (“True True”) and Sonora Reyes (“The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School”), 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Free, but registration is required; go to

Geauga County Public Library (Middlefield branch, 16167 E. High St.): Wayne Hershberger talks about “A Traveler’s Quest: One Amish Boy’s Journey from Trials to Triumphs,” 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Register at

Stark County Public Library (715 Market Ave. N., Canton): Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour talks about her work in a virtual event from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Register at

Music Box Supper Club (1148 Main Ave., Cleveland): Rick Porrello, author of “To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia,” talks about “Superthief: A Master Burglar, the Mafia and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History,” 7 p.m. Wednesday. Dinner is $25; the lecture is free. Go to

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Beachwood branch, 25501 Shaker Blvd.): Linda Kass, author of “Bessie,” talks to Kelly Fishman of the Anti-Defamation League about her novel about Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Register at

Cleveland Public Library (Rice Campus, 11535 Shaker Blvd.): Dameyonna Willis talks about her children’s book “Where’s My Crown,” 3 p.m. Thursday.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.): Sandusky native John Kropf signs “Color Capital of the World: Growing Up with the Legacy of a Crayon Company,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Register at

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Mark Zimmerman signs “Eli: The Phenom’s Story,” his novel about a 1940s Amish farmer who becomes the star of the Cleveland Indians, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Cleveland Public Library (Memorial-Nottingham branch, 17109 Lake Shore Blvd.): Shardae Webb signs “I See Me in the ABCs: Exploring the World of Fruits and Veggies Through the Alphabet,” 1 p.m. Saturday.

Massillon Public Library (208 Lincoln Way E.): Dwight Parrish reads from his poetry collection “Sketches of Me,” 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Email information about books of local interest, and event notices at least two weeks in advance to and McIntyre tweets at @BarbaraMcI.

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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: ‘Breaking Through the Lines’ is biography of Marion Motley