Pass It Down

Ep. 55: Dr. Harry Edwards: The Devil Is In The Delivery (Part 1)

Episode Summary

The Civil Rights icon and esteemed sports sociologist educates Mike (his former UC Berkeley student) and Natalie on some of the most important issues of our time, including climate change, gun control, women’s rights and the racial divide that spawned the Trump presidency. Beginning with a blistering assessment of the NFL’s reliance on “race norming” in a concussion-lawsuit settlement--and his charged conversations with commissioner Roger Goodell--Dr. Edwards speaks truth to power and reminds us why he has been one of the most significant American activists of the last 60 years. He also talks about being a target--from the moment he began organizing the iconic black-glove salute by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics--and explains why, despite our societal struggles, he’s optimistic about the future.

Episode Notes

After years of concealing evidence about the dangers of head trauma, the NFL settled a class-action lawsuit with former players… and employed “race norming” as a criteria, a practice racist in both its premise and systemic impact. Dr. Edwards, who regards race norming as part of the “medical apartheid” with which Black Americans have long been confronted, explains why its revelation could spark locker-room revolts and why the devil is not in the details, but in the delivery, as the league attempts to rectify it. In tracing his own journey, from an impoverished upbringing in East St. Louis to pronounced academic achievement and high-profile Civil Rights activism, the esteemed sociologist addresses the personal danger he has faced as a high-profile target--and a recent brush with a would-be assassin’s spray of bullets. Edwards also tells us why Donald Trump was a symptom, rather than a root cause, of the racism that fueled his presidency, and how women are imperative in the fight to conquer climate change, gun violence and other societal ills.