Beyond the Black Power Salute

This week’s review recounts efforts to advance fair pay and inclusion in sports, centering on American athlete activism during the 1960s-70s.

Beyond the Black Power Salute: Athlete Activism in an Era of Change

Kaliss, Gregory. Illinois, 2023
280p bibl index, 9780252044915 $110.00, 9780252087066 $24.95, 9780252054075 $14.95

Beyond the Black Power Salute: Athlete Activism in an Era of Change book cover.

This book offers a solid introduction to some milestones in the history of athletics, in particular athletes’ efforts to engender change through activism in the 1960s. Some of these milestones—among them Billie Jean King’s quest for better (ultimately equal) pay for female tennis players—are well documented in the scholarly and journal literature, and Kaliss is thorough about citing prior research and books. Other milestones and individuals have been less explored: e.g., Kaliss offers a scholarly take on Charlie Scott (b. 1948), the first African American basketball player at the University of North Carolina. The book’s strength is its focus on labor activism and athletes’ attempts to gain not simply access to a sport but also fair compensation for their work. The author engages the premise that American organized sport was built on racism and sexism and designed to maximize profits for those who owned and controlled the teams and leagues. Exploring topics from Jim Brown’s work with the Black Economic Union to the American Basketball Association’s introduction of improvisational style to professional basketball, this well-written book contextualizes contemporary debate about equal pay and athletes’ political power.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers.
: S. K. Fields, University of Colorado Denver
Interdisciplinary Subjects: African and African American Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, Racial Justice
Subject: Science & Technology – Sports & Recreation
Choice Issue: Jan 2024

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