Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Fists and Fool's Gold: The 1960s Black Athletic Revolt Reconsidered

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Fists and Fool's Gold: The 1960s Black Athletic Revolt Reconsidered

Article excerpt

This dissertation analyzes the historical, racial, athletic, and social contexts that defined track and field in 1960s America. It is a story about the continuity of protest and civil rights in that sport. My thesis asserts that black athletes in the 1960s battled racial discrimination, debated the role of protest, and extended a long tradition of black activism that tested the limits of American participatory democracy. I divide the dissertation into three broad sections and a total of 11 chapters. In section one I argue black athletes used competition as a protest mechanism that confirmed their humanity, reasserted racial pride, and defined citizenship. In section two the scene shifts from national to a local context at San Jose State. By the late 1960s, campus protests at San Jose State became the first instance when collegiate black athletes successfully led a resistance movement in sport and society. In doing so they became an important component of the broader student and black freedom movement of the era, and added activism as an addendum to competition as the sole avenue of protest that tested the limits of American participatory democracy. …

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