Distinguished Lecturers
Randy W. Roberts

Randy W. Roberts

Randy Roberts' major interest is the intersection of popular culture and political culture. He has studied personalities from sports, film, and television who have transcended their particular fields and left a footprint on the political landscape. Roberts is Distinguished Professor of History at Purdue University; he was named 2006 U.S. Professor of the Year for the state of Indiana by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He is the author of A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game that Rallied a Nation (2011), Joe Louis: Hard Times Man (2010), Jack Dempsey: The Manassa Mauler (expanded edition, 1984), and Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes (1983), and a coauthor of John Wayne American (1995), Heavy Justice: The Trial of Mike Tyson (1994), Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam, 1945-1990 (1990), and Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in America since 1945 (1989), among other books. He is also, most recently, the editor of The Rock, the Curse, and the Hub: A Random History of Boston Sports (2005); a coeditor of Before the Curse: The Chicago Cubs' Glory Years, 1870–1945 (2012) and Hollywood's America: United States History through Its Films (2010), and a coauthor of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (2016).

OAH Lectures by Randy W. Roberts

How did Cassius Clay become Muhammad Ali? Why was he the most polarizing athlete in America during the 1960s? Historian Johnny Smith will answer these questions and discuss his new book, Blood Brothers, the first in-depth portrait of the pivotal friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Professor Smith will explain the central role Malcolm X played in the life of Muhammad Ali and how the politics of the Nation of Islam broke the bond between these two icons. Blood Brothers is a tale of friendship and brotherhood, love and deep affection. It is also a story of deceit, betrayal, and violence—inside and outside the ring—during a troubled time in America.


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