Athletes Take a Stand

Staff Picks

Athletes Take a Stand

Black History Month Reads with The Washington Mystics

This Black History Month, DC Public Library and the Washington Mystics are lifting up those who have left their mark by using their words and actions to embody resistance. Some have created enduring symbols of resistance by raising a fist or taking a knee, some have shared powerful words calling for a better future and some became the change they wanted to see by breaking barriers for Black athletes. Below is a selection of titles for adults that explore these different experiences of Black resistance in athleticism.
Etan Thomas, an eleven-year NBA veteran and lifelong advocate for social justice, weaves together his personal experiences with police violence and white supremacy with multiple interviews of family members of victims of police brutality as well as activist athletes and other public figures. Police Brutality and White Supremacy demands accountability and justice for those responsible for and impacted by police violence and terror. It offers practical solutions to work against the promotion of white supremacy in law enforcement, Christianity, early education, and across the public sphere.

Hear from Etan Thomas on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. as he speaks with Emerald Garner, Martin Luther King Jr. III, Arndrea Waters King and Kenneth Moten about Emerald Garner's new title, "Finding My Voice." Click here to register for the event.
Bestselling author, basketball legend and cultural commentator Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores the heart of issues that affect Americans today. He uses his unique blend of erudition, street smarts and authentic experience in essays on the country's seemingly irreconcilable partisan divide - both racial and political, parenthood, and his own experiences as an athlete, African-American, and a Muslim. The book is not just a collection of expositions; he also offers keen assessments of and solutions to problems such as racism in sports while speaking candidly about his experiences on the court and off.
In this comprehensive biography, Ashley Brown narrates the public career and private struggles of Althea Gibson. Based on extensive archival work and oral histories, Serving Herself sets Gibson's life and choices against the backdrop of the Great Migration, Jim Crow racism, the integration of American sports, the civil rights movement, the Cold War, and second-wave feminism. A compelling life and times portrait, Serving Herself offers a revealing look at the rise and fall of a fiercely independent trailblazer who satisfied her own needs and simultaneously set a pathbreaking course for Black athletes.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and his teammate John Carlos came in first and third, respectively, in the 200-meter dash. As they received their medals, each man raised a black-gloved fist, creating an image that will always stand as an iconic representation of the complicated conflations of race, politics, and sports. In Silent Gesture Smith fills out the story around that moment--how it came to be and where it led.
In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, the celebrated NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. By "taking a knee," Kaepernick bravely joined a long tradition of American athletes making powerful political statements. Critically acclaimed sports journalist and author of A People's History of Sports in the United States, Dave Zirin chronicles "the Kaepernick effect" for the first time, through interviews with a broad cross-section of professional athletes across many different sports, college stars and high-powered athletic directors, and high school athletes and coaches. 

Find more recommended reads along with thought-provoking events, streaming music and movies, research tools, local history resources and much more on the library's Black History Month page