Sport and the Color Line
Black Athletes and Race Relations in Twentieth Century America
The year 2003 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of W.E.B. Du Bois' "Souls of Black Folk," in which he declared that "the color line" would be the problem of the twentieth century. Half a century later, Jackie Robinson would display his remarkable athletic skills in "baseball's great experiment." Now, "Sport and the Color Line" takes a look at the last century through the lens of sports and race, drawing together articles by many of the leading figures in Sport Studies to address the African American experience and the history of race relations.
The history of African Americans in sport is not simple, and it certainly did not begin in 1947 when Jackie Robinson first donned a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform. The essays presented here examine the complexity of black American sports culture, from the organization of semi-pro baseball and athletic programs at historically black colleges and universities, to the careers of individual stars such as Jack Johnson and Joe Louis, to the challenges faced by black women in sports. What are today's black athletes doing in the aftermath of desegregation, or with the legacy of Muhammad Ali's political stance? The essays gathered here engage such issues, as well as the paradoxes of corporate sport and the persistence of scientific racism in the athletic realm.
Patrick B. Miller is Professor of History at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. David K. Wiggins is Professor of Sport History at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
"This wonderful, wide-ranging collection addresses--yet gets beyond--celebrations of individual black athletic achievement and indictments of persistent racial discrimination. Its essays meticulously examine the images and realities of black athletes and athletics, historic "firsts" and breakthroughs, the evolving color line in sports, and the centrality of athletic achievement in African-American communities. It also makes a critical contribution to our understandings of individual and collective strategies for winning civil rights in the United States and the cultural centrality of race and athletics today." -- Eric Arnesen, University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality
"Miller and Wiggins bring together a noted collection of authors. Each uses sports to document the complexities of twentieth-century race relations in the United States. The articles analyze from a range of perspectives the changing contours of the color line in sports and society at large. Anyone wishing to understand the legacy of racism in the twenty-first century should read this thoughtful and well-edited set of articles." -- Jay Coakley, University of Colorado
"This brilliant collection appears at a crucial moment in history as scholars, journalists, activists, and politicians grapple with the persistence of racialized thinking in American culture. This book is a must for all individual and institutional libraries. Anyone interested in a critical history of African American sport must buy this book." -- S. W. Pope, De Montfort University and author of Patriotic Games: Sporting Traditions in the American Imagination
"The editors have done a masterful job of assembling the influential voices of the past with newer scholarship that addresses gender and class as well as racial issues. The selections elucidate the central role and meanings of sport in the struggle for emancipation. This is an engaging text and a welcome addition to the scholarly literature." -- Gerald R. Gems, President, North American Society for Sport History
"Sport and the Color Line is one of the most informative, comprehensive and insightful sport history anthologies critiquing the African American sport experience at the high school, college and professional levels. Nationally acclaimed scholars such as Dr. Harry Edwards, Rob Ruck, Donald Spivey, David Wiggins, Thomas Smith, and Susan Cahn provide an in-depth analysis of the intersection of race, gender, social class, and sport during the era of Jim Crow and post desegregation of American sports." -- Dana D. Brooks, West Virginia University and co-editor of Racism In College Athletics: The African American Athlete's Experience
"As the twenty-first century begins, the world of sport resides at the conflicted heart of American race relations. This remarkable collection of essays by leading historians and cultural critics of the intersection of race and sport in twentieth-century American life reveals why and how athletic spaces are so crucial to understanding the nation's racial geography. In Sport and the Color Line editors David Wiggins and Patrick Miller offer readers an enlightening foundation for the critical interpretation of the place of athletic achievement in the history of American racial struggles." -- Mark Dyreson, president-elect of the North American Society for Sport History, and a member of the faculties of kinesiology and history at the Pennsylvania State University