Revisiting the Revolt of the Black Athlete

Dexter Blackman's picture
Call for Papers
March 14, 2017 to October 14, 2017
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, African History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Mexican History / Studies, Sport History & Studies


Edited Book: Revisiting the Revolt of the Black Athlete: New Perspectives on Protests in Sports during the Black Power-Civil Rights Era

Editor: Dexter L. Blackman, Ph.D.

Call for Chapters: 

Abstract Submission Deadline: May 1, 2017


In 1967, the Revolt of the Black Athlete, the appellation given to Civil Rights-Black Power era protests in sports, began in earnest: heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. military and continued to publically criticized U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as imperialistic and racist and several groups of black athletes launched protests against discrimination in sports and society, including a campaign to raise awareness of black America’s discontent with the continuation of institutionalized racism by boycotting the 1968 Olympics. Their collective protest efforts led the media then and a few scholars since to examine the experience of blacks in sports and the nexus of race and sport in American society. Collectively, these works suggest that historically black communities have attempted to use sports to demonstrate that blacks possessed the same ability as whites, thus improving whites’ images of blacks, and consequently bettering race relations. Secondly, that protests in sports, especially an Olympic boycott, contradicted traditional black advancement means of using sports and thus, was unpopular and lacked the sufficient support to materialize.

Although these works have established that the Civil Rights-Black Power movements occurred in sports and influenced black athletes, our understanding of the Revolt of the Black Athlete is limited by several factors. First, scholars have accepted that black communities, without exception, accepted the myth of the black athletes’ accomplishments as a means of advancement and that sports have not served other advancement purposes in black communities. Most studies on black advancements ideologies and strategies, however, conclude that black advancement was often influenced by various factors and thus, was complicated and multifaceted. Studies of the Revolt have not asked or attempted to answer the impact that multiple advancement philosophies, including Black Power (nationalism), had on the traditional black uses of sports. Secondly, most of the previous studies are very dependent on the mainstream media and at times replicate that media’s opinions. Most scholars, however, have not asked or adequately answer how the mainstream media influenced interpretations of the Revolt and what other critical sources, including the autobiographies of participating athletes, activists, and black media tell us about the Revolt. Third, although these works demonstrate that the Revolt occurred during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Students movements, they do not adequately situate the Revolt within those movements by comparing its impetuses, goals, and impetuses to those of such movements. In particular, many of these studies are reluctant to examine if the activism of black athletes encountered the same kinds and degrees of opposition as those movements. Lastly, the study of the Revolt has mainly been limited to studies of Ali’s anti-war saga, the call for a black boycott of the 1968 Olympics, and a few studies of black student-athletes’ activism on campus. Yet, other scholarship has shown that black communities debated the utility of integration into white-sports institutions and the demise of black sporting institutions like the Negro Leagues and HBCU sports, used sports as a venue to protest, and that black athletes and communities supported Third World anti-colonial efforts to use sports to acquire their liberation, including supporting the anti-apartheid in sports movement. There is a need to examine the relationships of these occurrences to the activism of black athletes during the prominent Civil Rights and Black Power era.

Consequently, this is a call for chapters to help expand our temporal, ideological, and chronological understandings of the Revolt of the Black Athlete. In particular, the call seeks articles that complicate the narrative concerning how black and other minorities have used or viewed sports during the overlapping Cold War and Civil Rights periods.


In particular, the anthology will expand our understanding of the Revolt and the relationships of its various components (Ali, the proposed Olympic boycott, ect.) to the Black Freedom Struggle, Black Advancement Strategies, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, the Black Students’ Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the struggle for Gender Equality in Sports during the era. It should also expand our understanding of the Revolt to include its local and international dimensions by including the struggles of local communities, high school athletes, and women athletes of color against discrimination in sports, and black and Latino athletes’ involvement in anti-discrimination campaigns, the anti-apartheid movement, and African and Latin Americans’ campaigns for racial equality. By examining these struggles, as well as including new examinations of the struggles of black student and professional athletes, the effort to boycott the 1968 games, and Ali’s struggle against the state, the anthology hopes to be the most progression and rigorous work yet on the Revolt of the Black Athlete.

Recommended Topics: 

The scope of this book includes, but is not limited to the following topics: 

  • Professional, college, high school, and local black and/or Latino athletes’ organization and protests in sports, on campus, and/or society.
  • National, regional, or local struggles and campaigns concerning the integration of sports institutions such as the 1967 protests of the NYAC track meet or the forced integration of the post-season NIT basketball tournament in the 1970s.
  • The forms of discrimination against athletes of color in the era.
  • The impact of integration of sports on historically black sports institutions.
  • The influence and involvement of black athletes in efforts to build unions and achieve labor demands in sports.
  • The experiences and protests of women of color in sports.
  • Latino Americans and Latinos’ experiences, involvement in, and use of protests in sports.
  • An examination of various components of the Revolt, including protests in boxing, professional, college, or high school sports.
  • An examination of the struggle of one athlete in particular and it’s relation to the larger Black Freedom Struggle.
  • Muhammad Ali and the meaning of his resistance to the draft and military enlistment in communities of color and/or the Black Freedom and Anti-war struggles.
  • Race, the Cold War, and Sports.
  • Black involvement in the anti-apartheid in sports and African liberation movements.
  • The media and athletes of color in the era.
  • The sports establishments’ response to the protests of athletes of color.
  • The response of the Black Freedom Struggle to the Revolt or its various components.
  • The call and campaign to boycott the 1968 Olympics.
  • The legacy of the Revolt and/or its various components.

Submission Procedure:

Abstract submissions can be submitted to Dr. Dexter L. Blackman at no later than May 1, 2017. All abstracts are limited to 300 words.

Articles should be limited to 8,500 words excluding footnotes. While this Call for Papers urgently welcomes submissions from all disciplines, works cited and citations should follow the latest Kate Turarbian/University of Chicago Style Manual.

Articles will be due August 1, 2017.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Dexter Blackman
Assistant Professor of History
Morgan State University