Dr. Harry Edwards was the keynote speaker at UCLA's Bunche Center's 21st Thurgood Marshall Lecture on Law and Human Rights. His accomplishments and influence has transformed professional sports, as we know it today.
The scholar activist, best known for advocating a black athlete boycott of the 1968 Olympics, continues to be quite vocal about current social issues.
"Today more than ever we must understand our recent past," says Dr. Edwards. "If we are to have an inform dialogue and strategy concerning where we are as a society and where we might be head as a nation," says Dr. Edwards.
Dr. Edwards, 68, is unapologetic about his views on race and the social impact it has on American society. Moreover, he has strong opinions regarding the misdirection of society's views on race relations in this country.
He concludes the circumstances this country face today are greater than those faced during the height of the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's. Throughout the event he manage to touch upon many issues plaguing race relations in this country.
By his own reckoning, black men are not going anywhere without black women as their equal. Those kinds of analogies have become a hallmark of his struggle to enlighten the uninformed about the social injustices.
Always the historian, he reminded his audience that the only woman allowed to make a presentation during the march on Washington was Mahalia Jackson, who sang a helm. The late Dorothy Height, President of the Council of Negro Women, was turned down when she asked to address the crowd.
Furthermore he drew a big applause admit a mention of Arizona's anti-immigration law. Dr. Edwards said, "This law does not pass the sniff test. We need to stop talking about illegal aliens as if the people who attend our schools, water our fields, clean our hotels, and work in our hospitals, are somehow from another planet."
The Arizona law gives local police officers broad power to detain people they suspect are in the country illegally and check their legal status.
According to Dr. Darnell Hunt, Director, Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Dr. Edwards was honored because "he is the leading voice on the plight of the black student-athlete and the connections between sports, education, and black liberation."
The renowned sociologist and sports consultant foresees a critical concern for the black athlete because of declining numbers as a result of the deterioration of the sports infrastructure in the black community.
"The black athlete will become less and less a commodity," say Dr. Edwards.