Athletes to Activists: Politics of the Playing Field
When Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he became first black major league baseball player of the modern era – and paved the way for athletes to serve as harbingers of social change. Twenty years later, at the 1968 Olympic Games, track and field star John Carlos raised his fist in silent protest of American racial and economic injustice, resulting not only in a world famous photograph, but also his suspension from the U.S. Olympic Team. Now, decades after Robinson first stepped on the field and Carlos risked his career for a cause, professional athletes are using their visibility to advocate for what they believe in. Join Carlos for a conversation with ESPN's Howard Bryant about the complex relationship between black athletes and activism, and the intertwined worlds of sports and politics.
Co-presented with The Jackie Robinson Foundation, this talk accompanies our upcoming exhibition, In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait of a Baseball Legend (open through September 15).
About the Speakers:
John Carlos is an athlete from Harlem. He is the co-founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, whose focus was to protest against racial segregation and racism in sports. At the 1968 Olympic Games, Carlos and fellow athlete Tommie Smith raised their fists in silent protest, which resulted in their suspension from the Olympic team. The famous photograph of the moment, however, brought widespread attention to these issues. Carlos went on to excel at track and field and play with the NFL. He later became a counselor at Palm Springs High School.
Howard Bryant (moderator) is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine and appears regularly on ESPN programming. He has been the sports correspondent for NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday since 2006. A two-time winner of the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year from Spitball Magazine, Bryant’s books include Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, and, most recently, The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.
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