Picking up the Baton of Athlete Activism:   Claire Smith interviews David Steele about his book It Was Always a Choice

Picking up the Baton of Athlete Activism: Claire Smith interviews David Steele about his book It Was Always a Choice

Join us as Temple University's Claire Smith interviews David Steele about his book It Was Always a Choice   

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, he renewed a long tradition of athlete activists speaking out against racism, injustice, and oppression. Like Kaepernick, Jackie Robinson, Paul Robeson, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos—among many others, of all races, male and female, pro and amateur—all made the choice to take a side to command public awareness and attention rather than “shut up and play,” as O. J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods did in the years between Kaepernick and his predecessors. Using their celebrity to demand change, these activists inspired fans but faced great personal and professional risks in doing so. It Was Always a Choice shows how the new era of activism Kaepernick inaugurated builds on these decisive moments toward a bold and effective new frontier of possibilities. 

David Steele identifies the resonances and antecedents throughout the twentieth century of the choices that would later be faced by athletes in the post-Kaepernick era, including the era of political organizing following the death of George Floyd. He shows which athletes chose silence instead of action—“dropping the baton,” as it were—in the movement to end racial inequities and violence against Black Americans. The examples of courageous athletes multiply as LeBron James, Megan Rapinoe, and the athlete activists of the NBA, WNBA, and NFL remain committed to fighting daily and vibrantly for social change. 

David Steele has been a professional sports journalist for more than 35 years. He has written for the Sporting News, AOL, the Baltimore Sun, the San Francisco Chronicle and Newsday, and has contributed to ESPN’s The Undefeated, USA Today, and the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine. He is the co-author of Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith (Temple) and of Four Generations of Color, the autobiography of pioneering baseball scout and sports agent Miles McAfee. He has won writing awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Association of Black Media Workers, the Associated Press Sports Editors, and the Society of Professional Journalists. 

Claire Smith has been an influential voice among African-American writers and editors throughout her career in newspapers and television. 

The founding executive director of Temple University’s The Claire Smith Center for Sports Media, she joined TU’s Klein College of Media and Communication as an assistant professor of practice. 

Our programs are geared toward a general audience and are open to all, including Temple students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, and friends. Registration is encouraged.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023
2:00pm - 3:00pm
Charles Library Event Space
Main Campus

Registration is required. There are 74 seats available.