About Harry Edwards

Dr. Harry Edwards is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

In a career focused on the experiences of the African-American athlete, Edwards has been a tireless advocate of black athletes, on the field and in the front office of professional sports organizations.

Due to his negative experiences as a student athlete on predominately white university campuses, Edwards became heavily involved in exposing the relationship between race and sports in society.

He may be best known as the architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. The organization was formed to protest against racial segregation in the U.S. in the 1960s, which led to the Black Power Salute protest by Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in black sociology in 1970, one of the first people in this field of study.

Dr. Edwards has written extensively on the connections between race, sport and society. He is the author of "The Struggle That Must Be: An Autobiography," "The Sociology of Sports," "The Revolt of the Black Athlete," and countless articles on race, sports, and the sociology of sport in books, academic and popular press.

Dr. Harry Edwards:

"2016 marks the 49th anniversary of a movement that I led on the campus at San Jose State in the fall of 1967. During that effort , I leveraged the only power potential that Black students and the 2 Black faculty members had at the institution: the threat of a Black player boycott of the season opening football game against the U of Texas, El Paso. At least partially in consequence - and more directly as a result outside political involvement - the game was ultimately cancelled , marking the first time in NCAA Div. 1 history that a sporting event had been cancelled due to racial turmoil at a member institution. Still, many changes in campus operations and culture were promised , and some changes were actually instituted.

"Of course, recent developments at the U of Missouri  and a rising wave of high school, collegiate, and professional athlete activism today recalls the SJS movement and the subsequent effort that I also led and organized , the Olympic Project For Human Rights (OPHR). 

"Against the background of this history, I believe that the 2016 Distinguished Lecture Series provides an auspicious occasion upon which to present an assessment of the promise and limits of leveraging athlete power potential in campus politics."