Ball in My Hands

Black Athletes, Race, and American Culture

  • Author(s): Wiggins, David K.
  • Series: Sport and Popular Culture
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2024-12-03
  • Status: Not Yet Published - Will Back Order
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When David K. Wiggins released his first anthology of previously published essays on race and sport in 1997, African American athletes were receiving more popular interest and scholarly attention. The growth of sport history as an academic discipline, combined with an increased interest in Black life and history, had led to the publication of numerous biographies of African American athletes, studies on Negro League Baseball, and one survey text on the Black athletic experience, to name a few.

Almost thirty years later, Wiggins’s second anthology is a comprehensive collection that examines the complex intersection of race, sport, and American culture, discussing the experiences, challenges, and victories of Black athletes throughout the twentieth century. Featuring eleven previously published essays, Ball in My Hands: Black Athletes, Race, and American Culture weaves storytelling and scholarly discussion together in its exploration of well-known figures like Olympic decathlon champion Milt Campbell, professional tennis icon Arthur Ashe, Olympic sprinter Vince Matthews, civil rights activist Harry Edwards, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, and more. In his final essay, Wiggins reflects on his experiences as a White scholar who has spent his forty-year academic career analyzing and writing about experiences of African Americans in sport and the interconnection among race, sport, and American culture.

With an original introduction and a foreword from Damion L. Thomas, Museum Curator of Sports at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Ball in My Hands is not simply a collection of biographies on individual athletes or write-ups on athletic institutions—rather, it offers a wide-ranging discussion of the history and meaning of African American sport that will engage not only scholars of African American history and sport history, but educators, sports enthusiasts, and general readers alike.

DAVID K. WIGGINS is professor emeritus of sport studies at George Mason University. He is the author or editor of eighteen books on sport history.