The Black Athlete as Hero

American Barrier Breakers from Nine Sports


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SKU: 9781476678863 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Part history, part biography, this study examines the Black athlete’s search to unify what W.E.B. DuBois called the “two unreconciled strivings” of African Americans–the struggle to survive in black society while adapting to white society. Black athletes have served as vanguards of change, challenging the dominant culture, crossing social boundaries and raising political awareness. Champions like Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph, Roberto Clemente, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Serena Williams, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James make a difference, even as many in the Black community question the idea of athletes as role models. The author argues the importance of sports heroes in a panic-plagued era beset with class division and racial privilege.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Retired history professor from Long Island University, Joseph Dorinson lives in Floral Park, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Joseph Dorinson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 307
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7886-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4596-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction: Hero Defined 1
Section One—Boxing
1. Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali 10
Section Two—Track and Field
2. Jesse Owens, Harrison Dillard and Mal Whitfield, and Rafer Johnson 28
3. Wilma Rudolph, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the Joyner Connection, and Carl Lewis 38
Section Three—Football
4. Duke Slater, J. Mayo Williams, and Other Pathbreakers in the College and Pro Ranks 50
5. Fritz Pollard and Paul Robeson 68
6. Jim Brown and Black Quarterbacks 80
Section Four—Baseball
7. Black Players in Baseball Before Integration 92
8. Jackie Robinson 110
9. Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella, Monte Irvin and Larry Doby 121
10. Willie Mays, Ed Charles, Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Ernie Banks 135
11. Bill White and Curt Flood 153
12. Minnie Miñoso, Vic Power, and Roberto Clemente 163
Section Five—Tennis
13. Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Venus and Serena Williams, and Naomi Osaka 174
Part Six—Basketball
14. The Harlem Renaissance Five 188
15. Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson 194
16. Elgin Baylor, Connie Hawkins, and Dr. J 204
17. Kareem ­Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson 213
18. Charlie Scott and Michael Jordan 222
19. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant 233
20. Ora Washington, Lynette Woodard, Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia ­Cooper-Dyke, and Maya Moore 240
Section 7—Golf, Hockey, Gymnastics
21. Tiger Woods, Willie O’Ree, and Simone Biles 250
Conclusion 260
Chapter Notes 267
Bibliography 289
Index 295

Book Reviews & Awards

• “An extremely impressive and encompassing work. Its purposeful intent, as the author states at different locations throughout the narrative, is to highlight the role of black athletes, their personalities and prowess, who in their idiosyncratic pathways ‘strove heroically to bend the arc of history.’”—Joseph Boskin, Boston University

• “The Black Athlete as Hero makes a significant contribution with its coverage of athletes not included in other collections and by bringing together so many in one place. The author’s personal ties to many of the athletes is also unique.”—Leslie Heaphy, author, The Negro Leagues, 1869-1960

• “Informative…fascinating, ground-breaking…unreservedly recommended”—Midwest Book Review