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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Visiting prof to discuss black athlete activism

From protests of segregation at the Olympics to recent activism at the University of Missouri, visiting professor Harry Edwards will weigh in on the role of black athletes as activists.

Edwards is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California. Throughout his career, Edwards has advocated for black athletes both on and off the field. His work focuses on the activism opportunities for college athletes.

Edward’s presentation, titled “The Promise and Limits of Leveraging Black Athlete Power Potential to Compel Campus Change,” will cover his history as a black athlete who made the decision to redirect his career path to sociology after his treatment on campus at San Jose State University in the 1960s.

Dell Billings, administrative coordinator of health and kinesiology, helped coordinate the event. Billings said Edwards will speak to the impact student athletes can have on a campus.

“We have been trying to get [Edwards] here for a couple years now, and the idea that he wants to come to here and speak to our campus is a big deal for us,” Billings said. “He’ll basically be speaking on how athletes in situations, such as at Missouri, can do some change on their campus.”

Edwards was the architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which was formed to protest segregation. The same group is also responsible for the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the medal ceremony of the 1968 Olympics.

Billings said Edwards’ presentation will reference the situation at the University of Missouri where minority athletes protested campus-wide discrimination, leading to the university president stepping down from office.

“Before the Missouri situation, you didn’t really hear anything about black athletes getting to be a part of social consciousness,” Billings said. “They were the ones, in theory, stepping out of it so they could concentrate on what they’re doing on the field.” 

Billings said Edwards’ presentation will put situations like the one on the Missouri campus into a broader perspective.

“Missouri changed that in a lot of ways, and I think [Edwards’] presentation will approach that kind of world and in a greater scheme that will make it conversation not only for athletes but people who are not athletes who are just interested in what he’s talking about.”

Edwards’ presentation is a part of a three-day long event that begins Wednesday. The event, “Impact of Health, Kinesiology and Sport Management on Society,” is presented by the Department of Education and Human Development. 

Edwards’ presentation will take place at 8 a.m. Thursday in Rudder Theatre. 

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