A timely and significant examination of how Black athletes have used their influence to create meaningful change and reform for Black Americans.
In the age of social media, athletes have a powerful influence like never before. Many Black athletes have used that power in positive ways, galvanizing their platforms to create impactful educational opportunities, donate to Black social causes, and raise political awareness on important issues.
In The Black Athlete Revolt: The Sport Justice Movement in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter, Shaun M. Anderson examines the Black athlete’s rise in advocating for social justice and how today’s athletes have moved beyond protesting to create substantial change for Black Americans. Anderson reflects on the history and evolution of Black athlete activism, breaking down its importance during the civil rights movement, the commodification of athletes during the 1990s, and how twenty-first century athletes have utilized their wealth and influence to create lasting societal change in the age of #BlackLivesMatter.
With fascinating portraits of notable individuals in the history of Black activism, as well as insights from athletes and allies who discuss the future of athlete activism, The Black Athlete Revolt reveals the ever-evolving and crucial role of Black athletes beyond the world of sports.
Shaun M. Anderson, PhD, is the founder and president of CSR Global Consulting, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping sport organizations develop strategic plans to effectively communicate their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. An internationally-recognized scholar and a prominent voice discussing sport and social change, his work and commentary has been featured in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, World Policy Institute, Washington Times, Black Enterprise Magazine, and others. Anderson is an associate professor of organizational communication at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Chapter One - Sport and Politics: An Unholy Matrimony
Chapter Two – All Lives Matter! Well, Except…
Chapter Three – United We Stand, Divided We Kneel
Chapter Four – We Want Reform!
Chapter Five – The Sport Justice Movement
About the Author
This insightful debut from Anderson... examines the relationship between Black athletes and the quest for social justice. Chronicling the highs and lows of 'athlete activism,' Anderson explores Jackie Robinson’s integration of Major League Baseball in 1947, Muhammad Ali’s 1967 refusal to serve in Vietnam, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s decision to boycott the 1968 Olympics in protest of racism in the U.S. According to Anderson, activism among Black athletes waned in the 1980s and ’90s as players focused on corporate endorsements and avoided political statements for fear of losing revenue. That changed with the Black Lives Matter movement in the 2010s, which 'paved the way for the revitalization of athlete activism' and inspired San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest racial inequities by kneeling during the national anthem.... Anderson makes a persuasive case that sports have a 'legitimate power to create substantial social change.' Meticulous and enlightening, this scores.
Anderson, a professor at Loyola Marymount University who specializes in sports and social responsibility, explores how prejudice and discrimination have affected Black athletes and how, in turn, those athletes have played critical roles in revealing and confronting prejudice, helping in the process to 'bend the arc toward justice.' ... [T]his short book makes a timely contribution to collections on sports and social-justice reform movements. The opening chapter provides a historical overview going back to the early nineteenth century, when Black jockeys dominated horse racing, through the 1960s civil rights movement, and noting why there was a pause in athlete activism during the 1980s and '90s. Anderson excels at showing how historical events led to Colin Kaepernick’s 'Kneel Heard 'Round the World,' and he offers a perceptive analysis of the sparks that ignited the Black Lives Matter movement and how it has prompted the “revitalization of athlete activism.” This book opens with a foreword by NBA veteran and attorney Len Elmore and concludes with an action plan for creating positive social change.
Outspoken Black athletes weren’t hard to find before the 1980s, from Arthur Ashe to Muhammad Ali. But the arrival of superstars with hefty endorsement deals made apparel companies—and the athletes they sponsored—averse to social commentary, and some were bluntly punished for it. In 1996, NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was indefinitely suspended after sitting out the national anthem in protest. The mood shifted, Anderson explains, once the outrages became too big to ignore, such as Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 and virulently racist remarks caught on tape by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014. The author’s discussion of how these incidents ushered in a new era of protest, accelerated further by the Black Lives Matter movement, is workmanlike.... A useful primer on the ever shifting playing field of sports and race.
In The Black Athlete Revolt, Dr. Anderson takes us on a journey through the history of Black athlete activism. We are reminded of the storied past and given a look at how today’s social justice movement is not only necessary, but alive in the souls of Black athletes.
This is a well-written, expansive piece on the role sports have played in driving much-needed social change in America for decades. Dr. Shaun Anderson did an excellent job of highlighting myriad Black athletes and movements that have positively impacted marginalized communities in spite of systemic racism and oppression.
The Black Athlete Revolt is a necessary read for anyone who desires to truly understand the contentious historical relationship between sports and politics. With this book, Dr. Anderson provides a thorough examination of the Black athletes and political figures who pioneered the call for social justice, and how the Black athletes of today have used that framework as motivation to continue the fight for societal change during one of the most significant periods of racial unrest. Dr. Anderson also delivers an invigorating perspective on how the Black Lives Matter movement has influenced social and political action by Black athletes at the collegiate and professional levels of sports and the role the movement will have in affecting social change moving forward. The Black Athlete Revolt is a credible and necessary resource for those who want to affect change!
The Black Athlete Revolt, by Shaun M. Anderson, stands as an intellectually stimulating and contemplative analysis of the strategic endeavours undertaken by Black athletes to transcend protests and instead create substantial change for the Black community in the United States. Anderson masterfully scrutinises the methods employed by these athletes in harnessing their platforms to propel social and political transformations. Noteworthy instances, such as Muhammed Ali’s defiance against the Vietnam War and Colin Kaepernick’s symbolic kneeling during the National Anthem, are dissected alongside less familiar occurrences predating and transpiring during the Civil Rights movement. [It] is a must-read for anyone interested in the juncture of sports, politics, and racial dynamics within the United States. Anderson’s narrative technique intertwined with a deep understanding of the subject matter makes this book a standout contribution to the ongoing conversation about the role of athletes in shaping our society.
Foreword by Len Elmore, American sportscaster, lawyer, and former NBA player
11/19/22, Publishers Weekly: This book was featured in a roundup of diverse reads.
11/29/22, Sports Book Reviews: This book was highlighted in a roundup of highly anticipated sports books.
2/2/23, Choice: This book was included in a roundup of forthcoming titles in African American studies.
1/26/23, This Restorative Justice Life podcast: Shaun Anderson joined the podcast to discuss the book.
2/19/23, Kirkus Reviews: This was highlighted in a feature story about two new books that address athlete activism.
2/27/23, Sports Business Journal: This was highlighted in a roundup of new releases.
3/2/23, The Tavis Smiley podcast / KBLA-AM Los Angeles: Dr. Shaun Anderson discussed the book with Tavis Smiley.
3/10/23, Favorite Librarian: The book was featured on this bookstagram page.