BLACK ATHLETES, A DIVIDED AMERICA, AND THE POLITICS OF PATRIOTISM
After 9/11/, the world of sports became an arena in which patriotism was displayed and celebrated. Police officers threw out first pitches, returning veterans were honored at half-time. Sports events began to seem like advertisements for the military and law enforcement. In the wake of the shootings of black men, the acquittal of white police officers who shot them, and the resurgence of white supremacy groups, black athletes like LeBron James and and Carmelo Anthony are reviving a tradition of activism that reaches back to Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali. Howard Bryant traces this history and looks at how black athletes today are refusing to "shut up and play" and are helping to change what patriotism looks like on the sports field.
Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN, an NPR correspondent, and the author of Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball, The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, and a book for young readers, Legends: The Best Players, Games and Teams in Baseball.