Graduate student featured as part of event celebrating athletes' activism
As students and faculty at San José State University recently gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of athletes' activism during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, they also heard from a University of Georgia scholar.
Marques R. Dexter, a doctoral student in the UGA College of Education's sport management program, opened the Student Research Fair with a keynote titled "Activism: A Gateway to Stand Up for Humanity." The event was part of a week of panels, presentations, film screenings and other events marking the games when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the medal stand to make their statement against societal injustice and draw attention to the efforts of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.
In his presentation, Dexter connected the events of 50 years ago with today's wave of athlete activism. He spoke Oct. 15 as part of a multi-day celebration on campus.
"This experience was life-changing. From idolizing both Carlos and Smith as a young track and field athlete and using the work of Dr. Harry Edwards to inform my research and efforts involving social justice advocacy, I was honored to have the opportunity to represent my college and institution," said Dexter. "In a time when the existence of those who endure life outside the norm are threated to be erased, it was important for me to use my platform as an emerging scholar to empower others to engage in intellectual activism and stand up for humanity."
The series of events, organized by the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at San José State, also featured a town hall-style panel that included Smith, Carlos and other Olympians who experienced the Mexico City events to discuss the repercussions of their activism, the changes in how athletes wrestled with activism in the 1980s and 1990s, and today's push from the next generation of athletes.
Elsewhere on campus, visitors could view artifacts and memorabilia from social justice advocacy through the decades, book discussions, a talk on key issues in the civil rights movement, music from the 1960s and a speech from writer and civil rights activist Shaun King.