Race plays a key role in athletics regardless of the sport. Radford University will be welcoming famous activist, author and activist, Dr. Harry Edwards will host a lecture open to the public on Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Bondurant Auditorium to discuss the role race plays within sports.
The lecture titled, “Race and Sport in America: a Legacy of Promise, Contradiction and Collapsing Opportunity,” will be presented by the Office of the Provost, the Philosophy and Religious Studies Club and the Sociology Club.
“For decades, Dr. Edwards has written about exploitation of black athletes by college athletic programs,” said Associate Professor of Religious studies at RU and an event organizer, Carter Turner.
According to the History Makers Website, Edwards’s grew up in East Saint Louis, Mo. a tough neighborhood for African Americans during that time. He discussed how it wasn’t only the challenges of his upbringings but the obstacles of growing up during the era of segregation in the 1960s.
According to the “History Makers”, in an interview Edwards discussed being a student athlete. He describes the lack of academic rigor required of athletes and African American students at the newly integrated East St. Louis High School. Edwards remembers tensions that often arose at the integrated school. He initially struggled in high school as an athlete as he couldn’t interact with his teammates and was viewed as unequal because of his ethnicity.
According to History Makers bio on Edwards, he discussed being a student athlete. He describes the lack of academic rigor required of athletes and African American students at the newly integrated East St. Louis High School. Edwards remembers tensions that often arose at the integrated school. In 1960, Edwards’ mentor Frank Summers encouraged him to go to the University of Southern California to explore college options.
Arrangements were made for Edwards to attend Fresno City College for a year, allowing for a transfer into a four year institution upon successful completion of basic courses. He later was offered a basketball scholarship from San Jose State and then later offered a contract by the NFL but chose to pursue a degree in sociology instead of entering the draft. According the abstract of the History Makers bio of Edwards, he later join the NFL and won four super bowls.
Edwards has a lot of experience with race and athletics. According to radford.edu, he advocated a boycott of the 1968 Olympics by black athletes. He has written four books and numerous articles on the topics of sport, sociology and race.
“Our hope is that Dr. Edwards’ talk and April’s forum will help generate an honest assessment of Radford’s athletic and academic relationship and help RU avoid the pitfalls that many universities experience,” said Turner.
This event will be an open forum for all students and faculty to attend.