College Statement: Morehouse College Partners with NFL and RISE for "Advocacy In Sport Workshop"

Date Released: December 5, 2017

Dear Morehouse Community,

I am excited to announce that Morehouse College will be working with NFL players and athletes from other sports to enhance and extend the impact of social advocacy initiatives.

For more than a year, NFL players have been kneeling to bring attention to police brutality and other serious social issues that impact people of color. This has created a national dialogue. These young men recognize, as we do, that despite our relative privilege, we are not disconnected from the challenges facing all black men in this country. More importantly, professional athletes also appreciate that they have an opportunity to use their platforms to evoke meaningful change.

In February 2018, Morehouse College will be the epicenter of a landmark effort by the National Football League and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to galvanize the advocacy efforts of professional athletes. The College is partnering with the NFL and RISE to host the “Advocacy In Sport Workshop” from Feb. 21-23.

The Advocacy In Sport Workshop will engage professional athletes around issues of social justice and other advocacy agendas, emphasizing how to effectively launch platforms that rally community support and national attention. The three-day event is expected to attract members of the National Football Players Association, as well as athletes from major professional sports leagues nationwide.

The decision to host this important workshop at Morehouse underscores the legacy of the College’s role as a global brand and a leading voice in the national conversation on issues impacting black men and the black community. Since its founding 150 years ago, Morehouse College and its alumni have been strong advocates within the black community against racial injustice and the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers, as well as gun violence, laws that restrict voting rights, and political measures that negatively impact people of color.

We are experts in equipping our scholars and alumni with the tools necessary to champion and support all areas of social justice. We look forward to sharing our strategies with NFL players and other professional athletes so that they will be further equipped to do the same.

The Advocacy In Sport Workshop is a direct extension of Colin Kaepernick’s activism. We recognize and applaud Mr. Kaepernick’s efforts and personal sacrifice. His work, and that of many other NFL players, inspired this very tangible discussion and training.

The advocacy workshop was organized with the cooperation and support of several current and former professional athletes in the NFL after a series of strategic meetings that began at Morehouse College in October 2016. During the outreach, NFL officials, athletes, professors, politicians, social activists, and sports administrators agreed that there was a growing need to provide space and resources for athletes interested in activism.

The Identity, Art, and Democracy Lab—led by Morehouse College Associate Professor of Psychology David Wall Rice '95—has taken the lead in designing the framework for the advocacy workshop. Dr. Rice, who is also Associate Provost for Integrative Learning at the College, has been working on the workshop curriculum for more than a year in collaboration with RISE and other participants of the NFL meetings at Morehouse. Those who were particularly helpful in pushing ideas forward include: noted sociologist and civil rights activist, Harry Edwards; Kenneth L. Shropshire, the Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State University; Scott Pioli, assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons; and activist Wade Davis, also a former NFL player.

Athletes and select Morehouse students attending the workshop will work with facilitators who will discuss the history of sports activism, as well as best practices in media relations and relationship management. Lectures will educate participants about the process of creating advocacy platforms and how to access resources available to them. In addition, veteran politicians and experienced athlete activists and social activists will provide advice on community outreach. The discussions will be motivated by the perspectives and the narratives that professional athletes bring to the table that shape their views about national issues.

Morehouse College has produced several professional athletes, including Olympic gold medal winner, Edwin Moses '78, and Donn Clendenon '56, the MVP of the 1969 World Series. Several NFL and NBA players are also Morehouse graduates. Alumnus and former NBA player Harold Ellis '92 is now a top executive with the New York Knicks. Former NFL player John David Washington ’06 is currently a co-star of the hit HBO series Ballers.

Morehouse supports the work of RISE in its efforts to harness the unifying power of sports and to empower athletes to be effective advocates in improving race relations and driving social progress in our country.

The College is honored to work with the NFL and members of the NFLPA in this landmark effort and looks forward to supporting the training of social justice advocates in February and beyond.


Harold L. Martin Jr. '02
Interim President
Morehouse College

Press Release

NFL Partners with Morehouse College and Rise to Host Advocacy in Sport Workshop

Last Modified: December 5, 2017, 14:12 PM, by: Kara Walker

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