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Sports and the Racial Divide

African American and Latino Experience in an Era of Change

Publication Year: 2008

With essays by Ron Briley, Michael Ezra, Sarah K. Fields, Billy Hawkins, Jorge Iber, Kurt Kemper, Michael E. Lomax, Samuel O. Regalado, Richard Santillan, and Maureen Smith This anthology explores the intersection of race, ethnicity, and sports and analyzes the forces that shaped the African American and Latino sports experience in post-World War II America. Contributors reveal that sports often reinforced dominant ideas about race and racial supremacy but that at other times sports became a platform for addressing racial and social injustices. The African American sports experience represented the continuation of the ideas of Black Nationalism--racial solidarity, black empowerment, and a determination to fight against white racism. Three of the essayists discuss the protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. In football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and track and field, African American athletes moved toward a position of group strength, establishing their own values and simultaneously rejecting the cultural norms of whites. Among Latinos, athletic achievement inspired community celebrations and became a way to express pride in ethnic and religious heritages as well as a diversion from the work week. Sports was a means by which leadership and survival tactics were developed and used in the political arena and in the fight for justice. Michael E. Lomax is associate professor of health and sport studies at the University of Iowa and the author of Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860-1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary. Kenneth L. Shropshire is David W. Hauck Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and director of the school's Sports Business initiative.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

There has been a long trail of scholars attempting to sift through issues related to race and sports. Virtually all scholars who study race and sport agree that this millennium begins with marked progress. We have witnessed the first African American athletic director hired at the University of Georgia and the first African American head football coach hired at Mississippi State and the Southeastern...

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Introduction. The African American and Latino Athlete in Post–World War II America: A Historical Review

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pp. xiii-xxxix

In 1960, the Houston Oilers of the newly formed American Football League (AFL) instituted a “block seating” policy for the team’s home games at Jeppenson Stadium. African American patrons could sit only in folding chairs in an area from the goal line to the east stands. In response to these restrictions, Houston Informer sports editor Lloyd Wells encouraged black Houstonians to boycott Oilers’...

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1. New Orleans, New Football League, and New Attitudes: The American Football League All-Star Game Boycott, January 1965

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pp. 3-22

Within the tattered pages of a January 1965 issue of Sports Illustrated, an article written by San Diego Chargers All- Pro tackle Ron Mix described an event that has previously been overlooked by both sport and civil rights historians.

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2. Battles for Control over Muhammad Ali’s Career and Image

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pp. 23-54

On January 12, 1966, Muhammad Ali called a press conference to announce the formation of a new corporation that would promote his fights. The organization was named Main Bout, Incorporated, and its biggest stockholders were prominently positioned within the Nation of Islam. Since the company controlled the ancillary rights to Ali’s title bouts, it would reap most...

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3. Bedazzle Them with Brilliance, Bamboozle Them with Bull: Harry Edwards, Black Power, and the Revolt of the Black Athlete Revisited

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pp. 55-89

On October 7, 1967, a group of African American athletes and Black Power activists, led by Harry Edwards, formed the Olympic Committee for Human Rights (OCHR). The formation of the OCHR was in response to an informal survey Edwards conducted to assess the attitudes of world-class athletes regarding the problems black athletes faced specifically...

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4. The Black Panther Party and the Revolt of the Black Athlete: Sport and Revolutionary Consciousness

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pp. 90-104

In the wake of 9-11, American sport, whether at the amateur or professional level, wrapped itself in the flag, using the arena of sport to support American military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. This use of sport in the service of empire reflects increasing corporate control over the arena of spectator athletics, encouraging consumption and employing sport in service of the conservative...

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5. Dark Spirits: The Emergence of Cultural Nationalism on the Sidelines and on Campus

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pp. 105-125

In early October 1972, the hapless Oregon Ducks football team visited the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to play the host UCLA Bruins. The Bruins sported the number-one rushing team in the nation and en route to setting the NCAA single-season rushing record they demolished the Ducks 65-20. Strangely enough, however, portions of the student section stood throughout the game with their...

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6. Title IX and African American Female Athletes

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pp. 126-145

On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, a law stating that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”1 At the time, the law seemed to be about opening opportunities for...

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7. Mexican Baseball Teams in the Midwest, 1916–1965: The Politics of Cultural Survival and Civil Rights

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pp. 146-165

Sports have been a major presence in Mexican Americans’ lives since the early twentieth century. This has been true of Mexican Americans in the Midwest, where sports such as baseball took on a special significance.¹ More than merely games for boys and girls, the teams and contests involved nearly the entire community, and often had political and cultural objectives. Like the fiestas celebrating...

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8. Roberto Clemente: Images, Identity, and Legacy

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pp. 166-177

Roberto Clemente did not come to the United States mainland with the purpose of pioneering change. He came to pursue his dream of success in the major leagues. Driven by his competitive spirit, when he left Puerto Rico in 1953, he carried with him the credentials for baseball greatness: a keen batting eye, sprinter’s speed, defensive quickness, and a powerful throwing arm.

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9. The Pigskin Pulpito: A Brief Overview of the Experiences of Mexican American High School Football Coaches in Texas

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pp. 178-195

On the evening of October 18, 1991, the Duval County town of Benavides provided one of its former head football coaches with the highest honor that can be granted to a Texas field general, naming the community’s gridiron stadium in his honor. The tribute was well deserved for between the years 1940 and 1955, Coach Everardo Carlos (E. C.) Lerma guided the hometown Eagles to...

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Conclusion. A Contested Terrain: The Sporting Experiences of African American and Latino Athletes in Post–World War II America

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pp. 196-208

Racial issues in sport appear to be moving at the speed of light. Tremendous cosmetic changes have been made within the past thirty years. For example, there are more people of color occupying leadership positions in sport, on and off the field. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has diversified ownership with Robert L. Johnson becoming the first African American majority...


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pp. 209-211


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pp. 213-220

E-ISBN-13: 9781617030468
E-ISBN-10: 1617030465
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604730142
Print-ISBN-10: 1604730145

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2008