Basketball & Activism: A Conversation with Tina Charles

When: Thursday, January 21, 2021, 7:00pm

2020 brought a newly revitalized focus to the connections of sports and activism, but for WNBA champion and Olympic medalist Tina Charles, this year simply amplified her ongoing commitment to social justice and activism. Queens born and raised, Charles' support for the Black Lives Matter movement received national attention in 2016 and she is the founder of non-profit organization Hopey’s Heart. Just this fall she partnered with Queens-based community organization Together We Can to provide diapers and food to families in need.  Charles, whose WNBA career has included a stint on New York Liberty, will discuss her perspective as a New Yorker, her basketball career, and her activism with historian Theresa Runstedtler.  

This program is presented in conjunction with our exhibition City/Game: Basketball in New York (on view through May 23, 2021) and with Activist New York

About the Speakers:
Tina Charles is the epitome of the modern-day athlete. She is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, WNBA Rookie of the Year, 8-time All-WNBA, WNBA MVP and 7-time All-Star. Off the court, Charles is becoming known as one of the sports most committed philanthropists. Charles is the founder of Hopey’s Heart Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness to sudden cardiac arrest through the placement of Automated External Defibrillators. Starting in April 2013, through the donation of her entire WNBA salary, the foundation has placed over 400 defibrillators to date which helped saved a life in July 2017,With her debut film, “Charlie’s Records,” premiering in the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, the first-time filmmaker is trending to be as impactful as she is as a professional basketball player and philanthropist.

Theresa Runstedtler (moderator) is a scholar of African American history whose research examines black popular culture, with a particular focus on the intersection of race, masculinity, labor, and sport. She is the author of Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line (UC Press, 2012). She is currently writing a second book, tentatively titled Black Ball: The ABA, the Slam Dunk, and the Struggle for the Soul of Basketball in the 1970s (under contract with BoldType Books, Hachette), which examines how Black players transformed the professional hoops game, both on and off the court. Dr. Runstedtler was the inaugural the Chair of the Critical Race, Gender and Culture Studies Collaborative, from 2015-2018. In 2018-2019, she was a Visiting Faculty Fellow in the Inclusion Imperative Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Dresher Center for the Humanities. Most recently, she won an NEH Public Scholar fellowship to work on her second book in 2019-2020. 


Activist New York and its associated programs are made possible by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd. 

City/Game is made possible in part by ESPN, the NBA, the WNBA, Clara Wu Tsai and Joe Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty, Elizabeth R. Miller and James G. Dinan, the National Basketball Players Association Foundation, Con Edison, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, and An Anonymous Family Foundation. Additional support provided by Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire, Estee Tobaly and Henry Swieca, Marc Lasry, Nathan Romano, Mitchell S. Steir/Savills, Heather and William Vrattos, the Honorable Diana Ayala - New York City Council District 8, Andrea London, and other generous donors.

Education programs featuring City/Game are made possible by the Gray Foundation.


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