On Feb. 18, the KU Alumni Association co-sponsored “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports,” presented by the KU School of Business, the Langston Hughes Center and Kansas Athletics. The second annual event featured a panel discussion with former KU student-athletes Ernie Shelby, f’59, Lisa Braddy, ’92, and Wayne Simien, c’05, moderated by Shawn Leigh Alexander of the Langston Hughes Center. Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine, provided the keynote address.
Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni attended the event held in the Kansas Union ballroom, and alumni all across the country watched the conversation streamed live online at kualumni.org/powerofsport. Several current Jayhawk student-athletes were spotted in the audience, including the entire KU men’s basketball team. The evening’s conversation spilled over onto social media, as #KUracesports became a trending topic in the area on Twitter.
The entire event is available to watch below or on YouTube. The KU Alumni Association was proud to partner with the KU departments of African & African-American Studies; Health, Sport & Exercise Sciences and K Club in supporting this important KU event.
The event begins at the 13:05 mark with a welcome from Dr. Sheahon Zenger, KU director of athletics.
Homer Floyd, d’61, KU’s first African-American football team captain, and Ernie Shelby, f’59, KU’s first African-American track team captain, returned to Mount Oread for Martin Luther King Jr. Day events Jan. 19 in Lawrence.
After a program in Strong Hall, the two participated in a candlelight walk with about 125 students and faculty members to the Kansas Union for a Social Justice Celebration. Later that evening, Floyd and Shelby were honored during the Jayhawks’ rousing 85-78 victory over Oklahoma.
Floyd was an all-conference running back, and Shelby was a national-champion long jumper. In 1957, the two, along with All-America men’s basketball team captain Wilt Chamberlain, ’59, and All-America sprinter Charlie Tidwell, ’61, met with Chancellor Franklin Murphy to ask for his help in changing the discriminatory practices of Lawrence businesses.
At their urging, Murphy, c’36, convinced local businesses to provide equal service and access to African-Americans.
Floyd (left in photo below), who now lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, led the football team as co-captain in 1958 and went on to a distinguished career as a civil rights leader. Shelby (right), of Los Angeles, led the track team as captain in 1959, when the men’s team won the NCAA Outdoor National Championship. He won the national championship in the long jump in 1958 and ’59 and earned All-America honors. Shelby is a jazz composer and singer.
—Jennifer Jackson Sanner
photo credit: Steve Puppe