Call for Papers | Histories of Sport and Protest around the African Diaspora. Edited collection. Call ends March 15, 2019

In 2017, as NFL players knelt in protest during the national anthem, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Can you believe that the disrespect for our Country, our Flag, our Anthem continues without penalty to the players.” The Colin Kaepernick-inspired, anthem-kneeling protests – in response to increased police brutality – renewed a firestorm of criticism and critics of both the place of social justice activism in sport and to what point can an athlete step “out of bounds” and voice commentary on social issues. In 2018, basketball star LeBron James, no stranger to criticizing social injustice, was told by Fox News host Laura Ingraham to “shut up and dribble,” trying to remind James that his place was not in politics or criticizing policy, but to perform his incredible skills for entertainment purposes in the supposedly apolitical sporting sphere. The comment was not only met with fierce resistance, but also highlights the explicit racism engendered in such a comment. However, James is not the first athlete to receive reproach for his questioning of racism or government policy, but one in a continuation of black athletes that have, over the course of the last two plus centuries, used sport as a vehicle for social activism, means of highlighting social injustice, and a source of reproach for current racial strife. From Jack Johnson and Dick Tiger in boxing, to John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power Salute in the 1968 Olympics, to Kaepernick’s kneeling, one can clearly see that the boundaries of the sporting spaces themselves cannot contain the powerful images and messages of racial suffering or political protest. In fact, neither can the boundaries of the nation contain the forces of athletic protest, as the actions of athletes reverberate across the African Diaspora.

From Muhammad Ali’s protest of the Vietnam War, to Pele’s protest of the 1974 World Cup, to Africa’s continental boycott of the 1966 World Cup, to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling for racial justice, protest has been at the heart of sport. Whether tied to issues of social justice, racial inequality, or against war and police brutality, the sporting spaces (fields, arenas, stadiums, rings, and courts) have continually been used to shine the limelight away from the fields of play and onto social injustices for all to see. As President Donald Trump continued his attack on the NFL at the Super Bowl this past week and its players for their protest, this volume looks to contextualize the recent sporting protests within a longer history of African Diasporic protests across the Black Atlantic (and beyond). There has been a noticeable upsurge in the scholarship on protest and sport, and this volume will compliment and expand on them to highlight the various ways that sport and sporting spaces have been used and their impact on social, political, and economic issues in and around the Black Atlantic and African Diaspora. The current volume will bring these various sporting protests into conversation, highlighting the myriad of ways that sport has acted as a vehicle for change, as contested space, as social magnifiers, and as political goalposts. We seek contributions from around the African Diaspora, from all time periods, that highlight protest through sport, and especially those within a transnational framework.

Possible Topics of Proposed Theme

    • Women and Protest
    • African American Protest
    • Colonialism and Sport as Protest
    • International Sporting Events and Protest
    • Black Atlantic sports
    • Gender and Protest
    • Grassroots Sports in the USA
    • Sport Color line/barriers breakers
    • College Sport, Race, and Protesting Inequality
    • Fan Protest of Major Sporting Events
    • Hall of Fame, Award Snubs

The editors invite interested contributors to send abstracts of no more than 300 words and short bios to by March 15th, 2019. Please title your file as follows: Last Name_Abstract & Bio and include your email address within the document.

Inquiries can be submitted to the collection editors, Michael Gennaro ( and Brian McGowan (

Selected authors will have to submit their chapters of between 8,000 and 10,000 words (Chicago Manual of Style) by May 31st, 2019.

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