Johnny Smith is an assistant professor of history at Georgia Tech, where he has won numerous teaching awards. His research investigates the history of American sports, and he is especially interested in sports icons who have left imprints on American culture. His first book, The Sons of Westwood: John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty that Changed College Basketball (2013), explores the emergence of college basketball as a national pastime and the political conflicts in college athletics during the 1960s and 1970s. Most recently, he is a coauthor, with Randy Roberts, of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (2016)—named one of Amazon's best history books of the year—and A Season in the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle (2018).
The Revolt of the Black Athlete and the 1968 Olympics." In this lecture, Smith explains the roots of the "revolt of the black athlete" during the 1960s. Tracing the origins of black athletic protest through the careers of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, UCLA All-American Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Smith examines the relationship between iconic black athletes and the radicalization of American politics.