News Release: Symposium to Examine History of African American Athletes May 3, 2011

Panel will discuss impact of race and sports on civil rights history

Published 05-03-2011

A 1939 photo of Martín Dihigo, two- time All-Star in the American Negro leagues and the only player inducted into the American, Cuban and Mexican Baseball Halls of Fame. Photo courtesy of MARBL

Emory Libraries will hold a symposium on the history of African Americans in sports and their effect on civil rights.

“What’s Next? A Symposium on Race and Sports in American Culture” will be held Wed., May 11, 2011 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library, 540 Asbury Circle on the Emory University campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Symposium participants will examine the effect of African American athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and many others on American culture; analyze the impact of race and sports on civil rights history; and spark discussion about what’s next beyond the traditional recognition of breaking racial barriers in sports.  

“This conversation is important because society, particularly young people, often idolize current athletes and the notoriety they achieve, the large salaries they make,” says Randall K. Burkett, curator of African American Collections at Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) and one of the symposium’s organizers. “We need to focus on the early African American athletes and struggles they faced – the ones who paved the way and made it possible for modern athletes to enjoy the successes they do.”

MARBL will have a small display of materials related to African Americans in sports, introducing a new collecting focus and demonstrating the importance of preserving the papers of African American athletes.

Symposium participants

Pellom McDaniels III (moderator), assistant professor of history at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and consultant curator of African American Collections at MARBL, earned his Ph.D. from the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory in 2007. His dissertation focused on “The Angles of Ascent: Race, Class, Sport and Representation of African American Masculinity.” He is working with MARBL to build research collections related to African Americans and sports.

Gerald Early, director of the Center for the Humanities and the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the editor of several volumes, including Body Language: Writers on Sport (1998); and The Muhammad Ali Reader (1998), and the author of many books, among them One Nation Under a Groove and The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, a 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award winner.

Mike Glenn, former NBA basketball player and collector of rare books, newspapers, and magazines by and about African Americans. He shares his artifacts through traveling exhibits and lectures. From his collection, he wrote Lessons from My Library Volume 1. Mike writes and shares the inspirations and accomplishments of past African American heroes who faced obstacles of oppression, racism, and bigotry.

Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory and the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies. Dr. Lewis is author and co-editor of seven books, among them In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in 20th Century Norfolk (1993) and the award-winning To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (2000).

Light refreshments and conversation will follow the panel. The symposium is sponsored by the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, Department of African American Studies, and Emory Libraries.

Parking is available in the Fishburne deck; visit for directions.

For media inquiries, contact:

  • Holly Crenshaw
  • Phone: 404.727.0211