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Second annual event to explore intersection of business, race, sports

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Business and Langston Hughes Center, in partnership with Kansas Athletics, will present “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports.”

The event, planned for 6 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Kansas Union Ballroom, will feature a keynote address by The Nation’s sports editor and author Dave Zirin and a panel discussion from former KU student-athletes.

Shawn Alexander, associate professor of African and African-American studies and director of the Langston Hughes Center, said he hopes the interest in sports throughout the KU and Lawrence communities will encourage broader conversations about race, racism and inclusion happening at KU and throughout the nation.

“Sports is a microcosm of society, and as such, sport exposes the dominant attitudes and practices regarding racism, as well as other forms of discrimination, in the United States throughout the country’s history,” said Alexander, who will moderate the panel interview.

Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the business school, and Sheahon Zenger, athletics director, are members of KU’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which was created in November to address issues and concerns about greater campus inclusion. Zenger serves as co-chair of the group.

Zirin is the author of eight books about the politics of sports, including “The John Carlos Story,” which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He was named one of Utne Reader’s "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World," and Press Action has twice named him Sportswriter of the Year. Zirin is host of XM Satellite Radio’s “Edge of Sports Radio,” and he is a columnist for SLAM Magazine and The Progressive. He has also been a frequent guest on ESPN, MSNBC and Democracy Now!

Panelists include former KU basketball players Wayne Simien and Lisa Braddy and former KU track and field athlete Ernest Shelby.

Last year’s inaugural symposium featured a keynote address by The New York Times sports columnist and author William Rhoden.

Co-sponsors of this year’s event include the K Club, the KU Alumni Association and the KU departments of African and African-American Studies and Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Donations benefiting the Langston Hughes Center will be accepted.

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