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#Colin Kaepernick Syllabus | With thanks to NewbBlackMan (in Exile)

Saturday, September 10, 2016.

On September 4, Rebecca Martinez tweeted Louis Moore and David J. Leonard, suggesting the creation of Colin Kaepernick Syllabus. Soon, we, along with  Bijan C. Bayne, Sarah J. Jackson, and many others began the work of creating a syllabus to hopefully elevate and empower the conversations that Colin Kaepernick started when he decided to sit down in protest during an August 26, 2016 preseason game.  

Building on the framework established by Chad Williams, Kidada Williams, and Keisha Blain, with their monumental #CharlestonSyllabus, Marcia Chatelain with #FergusonSyllabus and subsequent efforts from Candice Benbow with #LemonadeSyllabus and others who have sought to not only use social media and online technology to crowdsource and aggregate conversations, this syllabus represents an effort to bring  together multiple conversations, histories, disciplines, discourses, and spaces.  If we are going to follow Colin Kaepernick’s lead to have conversations and work toward justice, we must do so with the necessary tools and collective understanding.  This requires engaging multiple conversations, entering into these spaces with a historic foundation, with knowledge about the persistent realities of racial injustice and inequality, with insight into the longstanding struggles of the Black athlete.  

This syllabus represents an attempt to aid in these conversations, to turn our everyday conversations, debates, and discourse into a classroom, all while making sure our institutionalized classrooms are engaged with the histories, struggles, and public discourses that shape our current moment.  

Harry Edwards recently recently wrote, “silence is evil’s greatest and most consistently dependable ally.” For all those engaged in these conversations, for those who have written, spoke about, and organized around racial injustice, silence is antithetical to our work, our ethos.  Yet, too often people speak past one another; too many people presume because of the everyday saturation of sports culture, the ubiquity of media coverage of the Colin Kaepernick, and the hypervisibility (and invisibility) of racial discourse, along with the belief that this is all about opinions and “two sides” that they are prepared for these important conversations.   

Too often, especially within the media and from those whose whiteness - their privilege - insulates, empowers, and protects, people speak without the requisite tools, without the requisite historic foundation, and without necessary information. This offers a toolbox of knowledge, links to resources, and information. The #Kaepernick syllabus furthers the efforts to disrupt the silence, to make connections, and to otherwise build on the work of Kaepernick, Edwards, members of the WNBA, Bomani Jones, Serena Williams, and so many others demanding that we speak and act.  While continuing the conversation is important, it must be done so with literacy and knowledge about American racism, the history of sports, the African American athlete, #BLM, protests, and so much more.  Discussions aren’t inherently transformative but with the requisite understanding, introspection about privilege and widely-held assumptions, and critical examination, we are better equipped as we walk toward justice and radical transformation #KapernickSyllabus #WeSitWithKaep


The Revolt of the Black Athlete

Harry Edwards, The Revolt of Black Athlete, 1968

Doug Hartmann, Race, Culture, and the Revolt of the Black athlete: The 1968 Olympic Protests and their Aftermath, 2003

Sarah J. Jackson, Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press: Framing Dissent, 2014

Amy Bass, Not the Triumph but the Struggle: the 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Black Athlete, 2002

John Carlos and Dave Zirin, The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, 2011

Tommie Smith and David Steele, Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith, 2008

Harry Edwards, What happened to the Revolt of the Black athlete, 1998

John Matthew Smith, 'It's Not Really My Country;' Lew Alcindor and the Revolt of the Black Athlete, Journal of Sport History 36, No. 2 (2009)

Darron T. Smith, The Missouri Effect: Finishing What Kareem and Others Have Started, 2015

Phi White, The Black 14: Race, Politics, Religion, and Wyoming Football

Louis Moore, Jackie Robinson and Police Brutality, August 2014

Louis Moore, Jesse Owens Ran the Wrong Race, US Sports History Blog, 28 July 2016.

Cat Ariail, “The Fulfillment of a promise of that has remained unrealized”: From Wyomia Tyus to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce,” Sports History Blog, 1 August 2016

Grant Farred, What's my name? : Black vernacular intellectuals, 2003

Mal Whitfield, “Let’s Boycott the Olympics,” Ebony, March 1964

Dick Schaap, “The Revolt of the Black Athletes,” Look, 6 August 1968

Jack Scott, “The White Olympics,” Ramparts, May, 1968

Myron Cope, “The Frustration of the Negro Athlete,” Sport, January 1966.

1968 Olympics: The Black Power Salute

Fists of Freedom: The Story of the '68 Summer Games

Race and Sports

Kenneth L Shropshire, In Black and White: Race and Sports in America, 1996

Thabiti Lewis, Ballers of the New School: Race and Sports in America, 2010

Amy Bass, In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century, 2005

David J. Leonard and C. Richard King, eds., Commodified and criminalized: New Racism and African Americans in Contemporary Sports, 2011

David C. Ogden and Joel Nathan Rosen, eds., Reconstructing Fame: Sport, Race, and Evolving Reputations, 2008

Scott Brooks and Charles Kenyatta Ross, eds., Race and Sport: The struggle for Equality on and off the Field, 2004

David L Andrews & Steven J. Jackson, Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity, 2001

Grant Farred, In Motion, At Rest : the Event of the Athletic Body, 2014

Lawrence A. Wenner, Fallen Sports Heroes, Media, and Celebrity Culture, 2013

Darron T. Smith, When Race Religion & Sport Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond, 2016

C. Richard King and Charles Fruehling Springwood, Beyond the cheers: Race as spectacle in college sport, 2001

Ben Carrington, Race, sport and politics: The Sporting Black Diaspora, 2010

Gerald Lyn Early, A Level Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports, 2011

William C. Kashatus, September Swoon: Richie Allen, The 64’ Phillies, and Racial Integration, 2004

Rita Liberti and Maureen Smith, (Re)presenting Wilma Rudolph, 2015.

Patrick B. Miller, To ‘Bring the Race along Rapidly’: Sport, Student Culture, and Educational Mission at Historically Black Colleges during the Interwar Years,  History of Education Quarterly, 35, no. 2 (1995), 111-133.

Bill Russell, Go Up for Glory, 1966.

David Wiggins, Glory Bound: Black Athletes in White America, Syracuse University Press, 1997.

Brad Snyder, A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports, 2006

The Editors of Sport with Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson, “Where the Negro Goes from Here,” Sport, September, 1966.

Andrew Maraniss, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, 2014

Jackie Robinson, I Never Had It Made, 1972.


Race, Power and American Sports

30 for 30

O.J. in Black and White

O.J.: Made in America


Thomas Oates and Zach Furness, eds, The NFL: Critical and Cultural Perspectives, 2014

David J. Leonard, Kimberly George, and Wade Davis, Football, Culture and Power, 2016

Michael Oriard, Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport, 2003

Charles. K. Ross, Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League, 1999

Thomas G Smith, Showdown: JFK and the integration of the Washington R**skins, 2011

Jessica Luther, The NFL’s Domestic Violence Problem and our Race Problem, 2014 (Given widespread arguments about the hypocrisy of a league and the media that has demonized Kaepernick yet remained silent in the face of countless incidents of domestic abuse and sexual violence, Luther’s work is essential.  Also see her Unsportsmanlike conduct : college football and the politics of rape (2016) for broader context within collegiate sports

Tyler Tynes, Buffalo's 3 black quarterbacks are battling each other and history, 2016

History of African American Athlete

Jennifer H Lansbury, A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America, 2014

Theresa Runstedtler, Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line, 2012

Abraham Iqbal Khan, Curt Flood in the Media: Baseball, Race, and the Demise of the Activist-Athlete, 2012

Arthur Ashe, A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1919-1945, 1998

William C. Rhoden, $40 million Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, 2006

William C. Rhoden, Third and a mile: The Trials and Triumphs of the Black Quarterback, 2007

Aram Goudsouzian, King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution, 2010.

Eric Allen Hall, Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights era, 2014

Lane Demas, Integrating the Gridiron: Black Civil Rights and American College Football, 2010

David Wiggins, ed., Out of the Shadows: A Biographical History of African American Athletes, 2006

Jules Tygiel, Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and his Legacy, 1983

J. Christopher Schultz, Jackie Robinson: an Integrated Life, 2016

Jaime Schultz, Moments of Impact: Injury, Racialized Memory, & Reconciliation in College Football, 2016

Theresa E. Runstedtler, “In Sports the Best Man Wins: How Joe Louis Whupped Jim Crow,” In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 47-92.

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff, Constructing G.I. Joe Louis: Cultural Solutions to the ‘Negro Problem’ during World War II, Journal of American History 89, no. 3 (Dec., 2002): 958-983.

Walter LaFeber, Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism,, 2002

Ian Kerr, The Myth of Racial Superiority in Sports, 2010

Mark Dryerson, American Ideas about Race and Olympic races in the era of Jesse Owens: Shattering Myths or Reinforcing Scientific Racism? International Journal of the History of Sport 25, no. 2 (2008), 247-267.


Jackie Robinson


Primary Sources

Richard Wright, “Joe Louis Uncovers Dynamic,” New Masses (1935).

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Chapter 19.

James Baldwin, The Fight: Patterson Vs. Liston, February 1963.

Sam Lacy, Fighting for Fairness: The Life Story of Hall of Fame Sportswriter Sam Lacy, 1998.

Muhammad Ali

José Torres Sting like a bee: the Muhammad Ali story, 1971

Budd Schulberg, Loser And Still Champion, 1972

Wilfrid Sheed, Muhammad Ali: A Portrait in Words and Photographs

Jack Olsen, Black is best; the riddle of Cassius Clay, 1971

Claude Lewis, Cassius Clay: a no-holds-barred biography of boxing's most controversial champion,1975

Norman Mailer, The Fight, 1975

Muhammad Ali and Richard Durham, The greatest, my own story, 1975

Thomas Hauser, Muhammad Ali : his life and times,1991

Elliot J. Gorn, Muhammad Ali, the people's champ, 1995

David Remnick, King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the rise of an American hero, 1998

Grant Farred, “What’s My Name? Muhammad Ali, Postcolonial Pugilist,” Dispotio 20, no. 47 (1995): 37-58.

Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice, 87-96.

Mike Marqusee, Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and The Spirit of the Sixties, 1999

Tim Baffoe, You Don’t Own Muhammad Ali, 2016

Ali Films

AKA Cassius Clay

Ali The Fighter, Ali The Man

Muhammad Ali: Skill, Brains And Guts

Facing Ali

Ali Rap

When We Were Kings

Jim Brown

Jim Brown, Off my chest, 1964

Jim Brown, Out of bounds, 1989

Alex Poinsett, Pro Football’s Mightiest Player, Ebony, January 1964

Alex Poinsett, The Controversial Jim Brown, Ebony, December 1964

Charles L. Sanders, Why I quit Football, Ebony, December 1966

Myron Cope, “Jimmy Brown’s Own Story,” Look, October 6, 1964

Myron Cope, “Jimmy Brown’s Own Story,” Look, October 20, 1964

Ray Robinson, What Jimmy Brown Wants out of Life, Sport, November 1966.

Alex Haley, Interview with Jim Brown, Playboy, February 1968

Essays, Commentaries, News: Sports and Black Lives

Christina Cauterucci, The WNBA’s Black Lives Matter Protest Has Set a New Standard for Sports Activism, 2016

Dave Zirin, 6 Times Athletes Spoke Out in Support of #BlackLivesMatter This Week, 2016

Black Lives Matter, Vice Sports

Maz Zahan, Time to End Professional Sports' White Silence About Black Lives, 2016

Darron T. Smith, Emancipation of the Black Athlete, 2014

Lindsey Gibbs, Punished By The League For ‘Black Lives Matter’ Activism, WNBA Players Fight Back, 2016

Lawrence Ross, A Silenced Ali Was a Likable Ali for White People, 2016

Emmett Gill, “Hands up, don’t shoot” or shut up and play ball? Fan-generated media views of the Ferguson Five, 2016

Lawrence Ware, Professional Slaves: Django Unchained And The Black Professional Athlete, 2015

Lawrence Ware, Cam Newton and the Racism of NFL Fans, 2016

Louis Moore, Let LeBron James Practice His Activism on His Own Terms, Vocativ, December 2015

Charles Modiano, Carmelo Anthony and WNBA raise bar on sports social activism, but how long will white men stay silent?, 2016

Darron T. Smith, It Ain’t Just About the Word: Tell Us How You Really Feel, Riley, 2013

Howard Bryant, Even without a Grand Slam, Serena's quest was significant -- and successful, 2015.

Thabiti Lewis, Fresh Outlook - Sports and Race, 2011

Tim Baffoe, The Scary Smart of Richard Sherman, 2014

Kaepernick Protest commentaries

Bomani Jones, Kaepernick is asking for justice, not peace, 2016

Dominique Foxworth, Kaepernick’s protest is as American as that flag, 2016

Tim Baffoe, Colin Kaepernick & 2 Americas, 2016

Zareena Grewal, Taking a stand by sitting down: Kaepernick, Abdul-Rauf and the national anthem, 2016

Russell Okung, We See You, 2016

David Leonard, The NFL is 67% black. Diversity hasn't helped white players and coaches understand racism, 2016

Dave Zirin, Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Has Nothing to Do With the Military, 2016

Dave Zirin, America Needs to Listen to What Colin Kaepernick Is Actually Trying to Say, 2016

Charles Modiano, ‘Getting away with murder’ — The four words Colin Kaepernick’s critics won’t tackle, 2016

Harry Edwards, Colin Kaepernick isn’t saying enough, 2016

Howard Bryant,