A long-time driver of social justice activism in sports, Dr. Harry Edwards appeared on ESPN's First Take television program Monday morning. Treated with great reverence by co-hosts Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim, the emeritus professor of sociology at Cal-Berkeley offered no shortage of incendiary remarks.
Qerim got Dr. Edwards wound up when she asked him what concrete steps people can take to help to institute change so we can move forward.
Dr. Edwards (appearing in photo) stressed the need for America to end its ongoing slave system and lobbied for Colin Kaepernick to win a Nobel Peace Prize. He complained that our society keeps recycling decades of failed solutions for racism, discrimination and violence and claimed we've mobilized around the pain instead of the problem. White institutions and communities harbor attitudes of supremacy, privilege and an inordinate amount of power, and this has to change, he says:
"What we've been doing is the equivalent of going onto a slave plantation and doing everything that we can to make the slaves more comfortable and secure as opposed to abolishing the slave institution, the system and we must seriously look at the system. I do not really have a lot of hope for progress, maybe some change, but progress unless we start to show as much energy, mobilization and as much outrage over arrangement, institutional arrangements and so forth in the American mainstream as we showed towards the pain that those institutional arrangements generate within the black and brown communities."
When the hosts brought up the topic of Kaepernick, Dr. Edwards indicated his intent to push the football pariah for a Nobel prize, when he receives honorary doctorates at universities in Switzerland.:
" ... Kaepernick should be at least nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, given what he has incited in this country, not just in this country, but arranged the world in terms of social justice and so forth, recognizing all of those athletes who down through the decades who have played a critical role in expanding social justice and human rights issues, and if that is not worthy of at least a Nobel Peace Prize nomination I do not know what is and it would be the first time that a sports figure has been nominated based upon what he or she has done in sports."
If Kaepernick does not have a future as a player in the NFL, Dr. Edwards wants him to be in the league "working with social justice challenges now faced in the NFL." He told as much to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
During the ESPN interview, Dr. Edwards also unleashed a progressive wish list of changes that need to take place within the power relationships and social and institutional dynamics that occur in American society. He complained that there is only one black Republican in the U.S. Senate, three black head coaches and two black general managers in the NFL.
The complaints continued over the "uneven funding of schools" and how this relates to people's voting habits in electing prosecutors. He said whites should vote in such a way that will end mass incarceration, help black and brown people obtain loans, get education grants and employment and allow felons to vote.