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Beyond the Field: Activism, Athletics, and Empowerment in the Modern Political Era

Malcolm Jenkins

A moderated conversation between Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and Assistant Professor of Sociology & Anthropology and Black Studies Nina Johnson on the relationship between athletics and activism.

From raising fists on podiums to kneeling during the national anthem, what makes America so uncomfortable when athletes dare to be political, and how do athletes position themselves within conversations surrounding athletics and activism? Individual athletes like Jenkins, who was integral to the Eagles’ Super Bowl championship in 2018, have demanded space for politics from their athletic platforms. Through his initiation of the Jenkins Foundation and the Players Coalition, a nonprofit collective of NFL athletes advocating for criminal justice reform, Jenkins has gained national recognition as one of the most prominent activist­athletes of the 21st century.

Beyond the Field will provide the Swarthmore community with the chance to hear Jenkins’s thoughts on how activism and athletics can complement each other; the various approaches Jenkins and his peers have taken while advocating for racial justice and prison reform; and the public’s responses in context of the U.S. political climate and past of blacklisting political athletes.

Jenkins’s conversation will be prefaced with a panel featuring Swarthmore’s own student­athletes, who have taken political action using their platforms as activist­ athletes. This event will give community members the chance to critically discuss the role of athletics in social change and the diverse ways Swarthmore’s athletes have used their platform in campus conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter, Title IX, prison abolition, divestment, and more.

Support for Beyond the Field is provided by the Swarthmore Cooper Series Grant; the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development; and Athletics for Diversity and Inclusion.

Student panel
Friday, Feb. 21, noon
Matchbox

Moderated conversation
Friday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m.
Lang Performing Arts Center