Title

Harry Edwards, Black Power, and Countering the Mainstream Media’s Repression of the Revolt of the Black Athlete

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

American Journalism

Publication Date

2021

Date Added

2022-05-16

Abstract

Harry Edwards led the organization of a Black Power campaign to organize a boycott of the 1968 Olympics. Contrary to the prevailing conclusion that the boycott failed to materialize because it was unpopular, Edwards’ efforts challenged the state-enforced Cold War-consensus that racial discrimination was declining in American society. Consequently, the state, including the mainstream media, moved swiftly to repress the boycott by demonizing him as a “black militant” and accessing the effort as misguided. Edwards, like several Black radicals, responded by adopting a militant façade that attracted media attention that allowed him to counter oppositional pronouncements and keep the boycott newsworthy for a year. Edwards’ use of the media, however, continues to complicate understandings of the boycott and Black Power. Uncritical mainstream media-based assessments suggest both failed because they were unpopular. By contrast, activist-focused studies conclude that activists succeeded by expanding discussions on racial discrimination in the national discourse.

DOI

10.1080/08821127.2021.1912960

Keywords

Black history

Disciplines

History

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