The Roots of the Revolt of the Black Athlete | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

The Roots of the Revolt of the Black Athlete

African Americans; American Civil Rights Movement; Athletes; Sports; Activism; Social Justice

Johnny Smith (Julius C. “Bud” Shaw Professor of Sports History, School of History and Sociology, Georgia Institute of Technology)

November 19, 2020

We are currently witnessing a remarkable wave of political activism among Black athletes who are using their power and prestige to challenge white supremacy, police brutality, and injustice. Yet Black athletes’ political activism has a long history. In the late 1960s, an unprecedented number of Black athletes joined the Black Freedom Struggle, contesting the old political boundaries of the sports world that required them to be seen but not heard. Although many Americans recognize the famous photograph of track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their black-gloved fists on the victory stand during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, most people do not know the history of the movement behind it: the revolt of the Black athlete. In this webinar, we will examine the roots of the revolt of the Black athlete and discuss its implications for the empowerment of Black athletes today.


History / African Americans / American Civil Rights Movement / Athletes / Sports / Activism / Social Justice /