Intergenerational Activism in College Sport: A Critical Examination of the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Lives Matter Movement Eras

Joseph N. Cooper – University of Massachusetts Boston
Ajhanai C.I. Keaton – University of Louisville
Cherese F. Fine – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

The purpose of this manuscript is to examine the influence of activism in and through college sport during two prominent eras of Black social movements, the Civil Rights movement (CRM) and Black Power movement (BPM) of 1950s-1970s and the Black Lives Matter movement (BLMM) of 2010s-2020s. Using a race- and sport-based analytic framework, distinctive forms of activism are examined to highlight similarities and differences in strategies, focal areas, and outcomes across time, space, and context. College sport is a highly visible feature of the United States (U.S.) and thus has served as an influential space for championing equity and racial justice within and beyond athletic milieu. Yet, there is a dearth of scholarship focusing on the role of activism in and through college sport in redressing anti-Black racism at the institutional and societal levels. The critical examination of intergenerational activism in and through college sport revealed the power and limitations of efforts within this distinctive socio-political space. Recommendations for future efforts are presented.