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Publisher's Summary

Following in the footsteps of Robeson, Ali, Robinson, and others, today's black athletes reengage with social issues and the meaning of American patriotism

It used to be that politics and sports were as separate from one another as church and state. The ballfield was an escape from the world's worst problems, top athletes were treated like heroes, and cheering for the home team was as easy and innocent as hot dogs and beer. "No news on the sports page" was a governing principle in newsrooms.

That was then.

Today, sports arenas have been transformed into staging grounds for American patriotism and the hero worship of law enforcement. Teams wear camouflage jerseys to honor those who serve; police officers throw out first pitches; soldiers surprise their families with homecomings at halftime. Sports and politics are decidedly entwined.

But as journalist Howard Bryant reveals, this has always been more complicated for black athletes, who from the start were committing a political act simply by being on the field. In fact, among all black employees in 20th-century America, perhaps no other group had more outsized influence and power than ballplayers. The immense social responsibilities that came with the role is part of the black athletic heritage. It is a heritage built by the influence of the superstardom and radical politics of Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos through the 1960s; undermined by apolitical, corporate-friendly "transcenders of race", O. J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods in the following decades; and reclaimed today by the likes of LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Carmelo Anthony.

The Heritage is the story of the rise, fall, and fervent return of the athlete-activist. Through deep research and interviews with some of sports' best-known stars - including Kaepernick, David Ortiz, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber - as well as members of law enforcement and the military, Bryant details the collision of post-9/11 sports in America and the politically engaged post-Ferguson black athlete.

©2018 Howard Bryant (P)2018 Beacon Press

Critic Reviews

“A fascinating, insightful look at race, politics, and sport.” (Booklist

“A well-researched meditation on the historical pressures on African-American athletes to embrace (or avoid) political engagement... An appealing blend of sports history and provocative discussion of race and success, respect, and representation in America.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“If you believe that sports can be a lens for interpreting and understanding our world, then The Heritage is the Rosetta stone. Howard Bryant’s latest explains so much about racism and the black athlete’s place in US history that every chapter could be its own college course. But Bryant’s book is less history than twenty-first-century prophetic fire: a polemic homing in on the ways that militarism, sports, and black athletic resistance have become volcanically explosive in the era of Trump. This is the book for explaining our times, whether you give a damn about sports or not.” (Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation, and author of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing)

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Great Read

As a future sports multimedia journalist l must say this book is a MUST READ for those who have trouble understanding the reasons for Kaepernick’s actions in the NFL.

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WOW!

The lenses through which we view our society matter so much! This book has helped me to consider how every day situations or events might be viewed through the lens of a person of color. Because of this book I can see how white-skewed our society is. Thank you for writing this book Mr. Bryant!