Race in Sports History; Race in American History

Friday, April 3, 2020, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: African American; Sports and Recreation; Women's History


This roundtable will examine ways the insights gleaned from studying race in American sports can illuminate major themes in American history as a whole, including the questions of equality and inequality at the center of this conference. It will also consider how sports history can be effectively incorporated into history courses and museums in ways that encourage students and visitors to explore key historical questions in greater depth.

Session Participants

Chair: Pamela Charlene Grundy, Independent scholar
Pamela Grundy is an independent historian living in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she pursues a variety of writing, teaching and museum projects. Her writing on sports history, which has won awards from the American Historical Association, the North American Society for Sports History, the Oral History Association, and the History of Education Society, includes Learning to Win: Sports, Education and Social Change in Twentieth-Century North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable History of Women's Basketball (co-written with Susan Shackelford, New Press, 2005), and recent editions of the textbook American Sports (co-written with Benjamin Rader, Routledge, 2018).

She has curated two sports-focused museum exhibits, The Most Democratic Sport: Basketball and Culture in the Central Piedmont (Museum of the New South, 1994) and Hoops and Goals: A Century of Women's Basketball (Museum of York County, 1995), and has taught sports history and other courses at UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill, and Davidson College.

Panelist: Bradley Austin, Salem State University
Brad Austin is Professor of History at Salem State University, where he teaches courses on modern U.S. History, sport history, the Vietnam War, and slavery in New England, in addition to a variety of methodological courses. He also coordinates a nationally accredited teacher education program and has served as the chairperson of American Historical Association’s Teaching Prize Committee.

He is the author of Democratic Sports: Men’s and Women’s College Sports During the Great Depression (University of Arkansas Press, 2015), the co-editor of Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), and the co-editor of Teaching U.S. History Through Sports (forthcoming, 2019). He is a Series Editor for the University of Wisconsin Press’s Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History. In 2012, the Northeast Association of Graduate Schools, an organization of more than 200 universities in the US and Canada recognized him as the outstanding Master’s-Level Graduate Professor for that year.

Panelist: Amira Rose Davis, Penn State University
Amira Rose Davis is Assistant Professor of History and of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University. Davis specializes in twentieth-century American history with an emphasis on race, gender, sports and politics. Her research traces the long history of Black women’s athletic labor and symbolic representation in the United States. She received her doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently working on her book manuscript, “Can’t Eat a Medal”: The Lives and Labors of Black Women Athletes in the Age of Jim Crow.

Her work has been featured in various academic journals including Radical History Review, and in edited collections, such as the forthcoming "It's Our Movement Now:" Black Women's Politics and the 1977 National Women’s Conference (University of Massachusetts Press, 2019). She also regularly contributes commentary on contemporary issues in sport and society in public venues such as NPR, ESPN and Democracy Now! She writes as a featured blogger on Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society, and co-hosts the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down.

Panelist: Katherine Mooney, Florida State University
Katherine Mooney is James P. Jones Chair of American History at Florida State University, where she has received two undergraduate teaching awards. She is the author of Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack (Harvard University Press, 2014) which traces the careers of the earliest African-American sports celebrities, the slaves and freemen who worked Thoroughbreds in the nation's first mass-audience sport. Race Horse Men received awards from the Organization of American Historians, the North American Society for Sport History, and the Kentucky Historical Society.

She is presently at work on a book on the United States' unique history of sex segregation in racing and the parallels between the success of mares on the racetrack and perceptions of women's political and economic autonomy.

Panelist: Damion Thomas, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Damion Thomas is the Museum Curator of Sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Prior to joining the museum, he was an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. He earned a Ph.D. in United States History at UCLA, and is the author of Globetrotting: African American Athletes and Cold War Politics (University of Illinois Press, 2012).

Panelist: Derrick Edward White, Black history
Derrick E. White is Visiting Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and History at Dartmouth College. His work examines modern Black history, sports history, and intellectual history through the lens of black organizational life.

He is the author of The Challenge of Blackness: The Institute of the Black World and Political Activism in the 1970s (University Press of Florida, 2011) and Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Jake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football (University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2019). He also co-edited Winning While Losing: Civil Rights, the Conservative Movement, and the Presidency from Nixon to Obama (University Press of Florida, 2014) with Kenneth Osgood.