Few realize that some sports were integrated, or even dominated by blacks, before becoming dominated by whites, for example, horse racing, golf, hockey, and tennis. This book provides a lens through which to view the historical context and specific circumstances of African Americans' presence in various sports. The author asks why sport has at times challenged the status quo with regard to race and civil rights, and at other times reinforced it. To that end, he analyzes various sports and asks "why" and "when" has each sport responded differently.
Wigginton asks how did blacks break the color barrier? Were they able to maintain representation in the particular sport? And did the entrance of blacks in these sports change the public's perception of the sport? The answers to these questions shed light on why America remains preoccupied with sports, race, and the seemingly integral relationship between the two.
To borrow from the title of Wigginton's (history, emeritus, Rhodes Coll., Memphis) book, the strange career of the black athlete is no stranger than the African American experience in general. There is racism; there are African Americans, like Joe Louis, who have been accepted by the white majority at least in part because their demeanor was nonthreatening; and there are those, like Jack Johnson, who have been rejected because they rocked the racial boat a bit too much. Wigginton's short book concentrates on two or three African American athletes from three different eras spanning the years 1892 to the present. He also includes chapters devoted to African American participation in traditionally white sports (e.g., hockey, golf, tennis) and African American women athletes. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.