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Symposium to explore the intersection of race, sports

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

LAWRENCE — In partnership with the Langston Hughes Center, the University of Kansas School of Business and Kansas Athletics will host a symposium about topics concerning race and sports Thursday, April 23.

Race and Sports in American Culture: A KU Symposium will feature a keynote address by The New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden and a panel discussion from former and current KU student-athletes and coaches.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Maceli’s, 1031 New Hampshire St., with doors opening at 6 p.m.

Shawn Alexander, associate professor of African and African-American studies and director of the Langston Hughes Center, said he hopes the symposium will highlight social issues and new research in an open context.

“At KU, we have a sports-centered campus, and we can use that avid interest in KU athletics to introduce students and the community to the ways in which race and sports intersect in American society and culture,” said Alexander, who will moderate the panel discussion.

Rhoden, author of “Forty Million Dollar Slaves” and “Third and A Mile: The Trials and Triumphs of the Black Quarterback,” has written the Sports of the Times column since 1990. He won a Peabody Award in 1996 as a writer of the HBO documentary “The Journey of the African-American Athlete” and an Emmy in 2009 for the HBO documentary “Breaking the Huddle.”

Panelists include Darrell Stuckey, Rhavean King, Tommie Smith, Eric Patterson, Tamra Gibson, Willie Amison and Reggie Mitchell.

Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the business school, and Sheahon Zenger, athletics director, noted the importance of open dialogue about race and diversity as well as the influence that business and athletics can have on those topics.

“This symposium will allow us to introduce the community to what KU business students are taught each day: Get the right people in the room, identify the root cause of an issue and, finally, build a plan to make yourself and your organization better moving forward,” Bendapudi said.

The business school and KU Athletics plan to collaborate on similar events in the future.

“This symposium is our first step in bringing the School of Business and KU Athletics together to highlight the intersection of business and sports,” Zenger said.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Donations benefiting the Langston Hughes Center will be accepted.