Sidelined: How American Sports Challenged the Black Freedom Struggle

Sidelined: How American Sports Challenged the Black Freedom Struggle

by Simon Henderson


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In 1968, noted sociologist Harry Edwards established the Olympic Project for Human Rights, calling for a boycott of that year's games in Mexico City as a demonstration against racial discrimination in the United States and around the world. Though the boycott never materialized, Edwards's ideas struck a chord with athletes and incited African American Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos to protest by raising their black-gloved fists on the podium after receiving their medals. Sidelined draws upon a wide range of historical materials and more than forty oral histories with athletes and administrators to explore how the black athletic revolt used professional and college sports to promote the struggle for civil rights in the late 1960s. Author Simon Henderson argues that, contrary to popular perception, sports reinforced the status quo since they relegated black citizens to stereotypical roles in society. By examining activists' successes and failures in promoting racial equality on one of the most public stages in the world, Henderson sheds new light on an often-overlooked subject and gives voice to those who fought for civil rights both on the field and off.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813141541
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 03/01/2013
Series: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century
Pages: 244
Sales rank: 1,061,111
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Simon Henderson is an instructor in history and sociology at Teesdale School and also lectures at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He is the author of Aspects of American History.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii

Preface ix

1 Locating the Black Athletic Revolt in the Black Freedom Struggle 1

2 The Olympic Project for Human Rights: Genesis and Response 27

3 The Black Athletic Revolt on Campus 61

4 Black Gloves and Gold Medals: Protests, Meanings, and Reactions at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics 89

5 Beyond Mexico City: Sport, Race, Culture, and Politics 121

6 Dixie and the Absence of a Black Athletic Revolt 149

Conclusion 179

Acknowledgments 185

Notes 187

Bibliography 209

Index 219

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