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For most of the twentieth century, politics and sports were as separate as church and state. Today, with the transformation of a fueled American patriotism, sports and politics have become increasingly more entwined. However, as sports journalist Howard Bryant explores in his new book, this has always been more complicated for black athletes, who from the start, were committing a political act simply by being on the field. Bryant’s new book The Heritage traces the influences of the radical politics of black athletes over the last 60 years, starting with such trailblazers like Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, as well as Tommie Smith and John Carlos —the track stars who 50 years ago this summer made world history for raising their fists with bowed heads while receiving the gold and bronze medals at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. This peaceful protest instantaneously became a historical symbol of the flight for human rights, although the athletes faced a severe black lash. In a timely conversation moderated by Dr. Todd Boyd, Bryant and Carlos will discuss the collision of sports and political culture, kneeling for the national anthem, and the fervent rise of the athlete-activist.

Howard Bryant

Howard Bryant is the author of Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s 2003 Seymour Medal, and Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. He is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine; appears regularly on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, ESPN First Take, and Outside the Lines; and serves as sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He lives in western Massachusetts.


John Carlos

Dr. John Carlos is a medaled USA Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian. Competing in the 200 meters, Carlos earned the Gold in the 1967 Pan American Games, and the Bronze in the 1968 Olympics. He also led San Jose State to its first NCAA championship in 1969 with victories in the 100 and 330, and as a member of the 4×110 –yard relay. Dr. Carlos made world history during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City when he took to the international stage during the medal ceremony to accept the Bronze medal at the Olympic podium wearing black socks without shoes to represent impoverished people, and raised a black-gloved fist to reflect the strength of the human spirit. This historical symbol of the fight for human rights was condemned by the International Olympic Committee, who suspended Carlos and his teammate Tommie Smith from the U.S. team. Since then, Carlos went on to play in the NFL and has been a counselor, supervisor and track and field coach at Palm Springs High School. Together with author Dave Zirin, he authored the book The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World.


Dr. Todd Boyd

Dr. Todd Boyd, a.k.a. Notorious Ph.D., is the Katherine & Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture and Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. A media commentator, author, producer, consultant and scholar, Dr. Boyd is an intellectual and creative force who transcends boundaries and defies conventional categorization. In the immediate aftermath of the 1992 L.A. riots Dr. Boyd arrived at USC and began developing a new field of study centered around hip hop culture. His pioneering work would make connections across film, music, television, sports, fashion, art, and politics, establishing him as a preeminent expert and distinctly authoritative voice on the role of culture in American society.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main Image: Salute68 (Film Still)


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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