Sociology professor and civic activist Harry Edwards was born in 1942 in East St. Louis, Illinois to Harry and Adelaide Edwards. Edwards grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois as the second child in a family of eight children. He attended the newly integrated East St. Louis Senior High School where he excelled in sports. After graduating from high school in 1960, Edwards moved to California where he attended Fresno City College. Edwards then transferred to San Jose State University where he majored in sociology and graduated summa cum laude with his B.A. degree in sociology in 1964. In 1966, Edwards went on to receive his M.A. degree in sociology from Cornell University where he was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. In 1970, he received his Ph.D. degree in sociology from Cornell University where he helped to found United Black Students for Action and the Olympic Project for Human Rights.
Due to his negative experiences as a student athlete on predominately white university campuses, Edwards became heavily involved in exposing the relationship between race and sports in society. By the late 1960s, Edwards began actively organizing protests and demonstrations like the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at Mexico City involving John Carlos, Peter Norman and Tommie Smith. In 1970, Edwards was hired at the University of California, Berkeley where he taught courses on race relations, the sociology of sport and the family. In 1985, he was hired as a consultant for the San Francisco 49ers and developed the Minority Coaches Internship and Outreach Program with Coach Bill Walsh. Two years later, Edwards became special assistant to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball to help increase representation of minorities and women in baseball. From 1987 through 1995, Edwards worked with the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association, specializing in player personnel counseling and programs. The programs and methods he developed for dealing with challenges facing professional football players were adopted by the entire National Football League in 1992 and in 2000, he retired from the University of California, Berkeley.
Edwards has written extensively on the connections between race, sport and society. He is the author of "The Struggle That Must Be: An Autobiography," "The Sociology of Sports," "The Revolt of the Black Athlete," and countless articles on race, sports, and the sociology of sport in books, academic and popular press. Considered a leading authority on the sociology of sports and diversity, Edwards has appeared on nationally syndicated television shows and documentaries while traveling extensively to perform public engagements. He has been the recipient of several awards and honorary doctorate degrees.
Harry Edwards was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2011.
East St. Louis High School
San Jose State University
East Saint Louis
North Coast of California
Keep The Faith.
Civic activist and sociology professor Harry Edwards (1942 - ) is known for his contributions to the study of the sociology of sport, his role as a consultant for professional sports teams, and his involvement in the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute in Mexico City.
San Francisco 49ers
University of California, Berkeley
Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harry Edwards' interview
Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harry Edwards discusses his maternal family in Southern Illinois, part 1
Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harry Edwards talks about his maternal family, part 2, racism in the United States and the 1917 East St. Louis riots
Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry Edwards describes his father and his paternal family
Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry Edwards describes his father and his father's upbringing
Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harry Edwards talks about his father's life after his release from prison during the 1930s
Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harry Edwards describes his parents' marriage, siblings, and earliest childhood memories
Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harry Edwards describes losing a family friend in a railroad accident
Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harry Edwards talks about his first encounter with the police and integrating East St. Louis High School
Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harry Edwards describes the sights, sounds, and smell of his neighborhood
Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harry Edwards talks about his early education, elementary school and teachers
Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harry Edwards describes East St. Louis, Illinois during the 1950s and 1960s
Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harry Edwards describes his father's love of books, his favorite teachers and the academic expectations of him as a student athlete
Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harry Edwards talks about his parents' separation
Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harry Edwards talks about his strained relationship with his mother and his home life after his parents separated
Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harry Edwards compares his early home life to that of his neighbors
Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harry Edwards talks about his sports heroes, broader influences and the effects of segregation on high school sports
Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harry Edwards continues discussing his sports heroes and East St. Louis High School
Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harry Edwards describes his relationship and conversations he had with his father and mentor
Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harry Edwards describes neighborhood businesses in East St. Louis and his experience being part of the integration of East St. Louis High School
Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harry Edwards discusses the change in his relationship with his father
Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harry Edwards describes his academic experience in high school and his plans to attend college
Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harry Edwards talks about conflicts he had with students, coaches and authority figures
Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harry Edwards discusses his exposure to the Civil Rights Movement and his traveling to California for college
Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harry Edwards talks about his experience with the admissions process in California and his first year of college
Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harry Edwards describes the benefits of attending community college and his experience at San Jose State University
Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harry Edwards talks about the 1960 Olympics and meeting several Olympic athletes at San Jose State University
Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harry Edwards discusses his challenges as a black student athlete in sociology
Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harry Edwards discusses sociology and the lack of black emphasis
Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harry Edwards links the incorporation of an African American emphasis into sociology, as part of the larger social and civil rights movements
Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harry Edwards describes attending Cornell University under his Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harry Edwards discusses being recruited by the National Football League and pursuing graduate school before professional sports