McGarr Symposium Presents "Sports: Leveling the Playing Field – A Conversation with Bill Russell and Jim Brown"

AUSTIN, Texas – April 7, 2014 – The University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication's Texas Program in Sports and Media (TPSM) partners with the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in hosting a landmark conversation between NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, reflecting on their experiences in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Presented by the McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society as a part of the Civil Rights Summit, "Sports: Leveling the Playing Field – A Conversation with Bill Russell and Jim Brown" will be a singular occasion for the sporting and cultural legends to reflect on the 50 years since President Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Texas Program in Sports and Media director Michael Cramer will introduce the panel and Harry Edwards will moderate the discussion. The event will take place at 1:40 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9 at the LBJ Presidential Library's Auditorium, 2313 Red River St. In collaboration with Google and the Longhorn Network, the LBJ Presidential Library will live stream each of the Summit programs at

About Bill Russell
A Hall of Fame center for the NBA Boston Celtics, Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of 11 championships in 13 years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times. The first African American to coach in the NBA – and the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the U.S. – Russell is an outspoken advocate of human rights. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality. In 2010, President Obama presented him with a Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation's highest civilian honor.

About Jim Brown
Jim Brown, known worldwide for his Hall of Fame football exploits, later gained notoriety as an actor. He became the first African American actor portrayed in a leading role in action films, starring in such notable films such as "Three the Hard Way," "100 Rifles," "Slaughter" and "The Dirty Dozen." He has also boldly stood up for civil rights, fighting for equality and against injustice with courage and integrity. Brown rallied the premiere athletes of the 1960s to support Muhammad Ali's right to conscientiously object to serve in the Vietnam War, and he marshalled those same forces to confirm Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's right not to participate in the 1968 Olympics.

At the height of his football playing days, Brown started the Negro Industrial Economic Union. Under Brown's leadership, more than 400 businesses and thousands of jobs were created through the Union. In 1988, Brown, seeing the plight of the streets of Los Angeles due to escalating violence among young people of color, founded the Amer-I-Can management skills program.

About Harry Edwards
Edwards is a highly sought-after speaker and advisor, who is a staff consultant with the San Francisco 49ers, having retired from UC, Berkeley in 2000. Born in St. Louis, the trajectory of Edwards' life changed when he became part of the first generation of black students to desegregate East St. Louis Senior High School after the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, ending "separate-but-equal" racial accommodations of public facilities. Moving to California in the 1960s to pursue an athletic career, Edwards went on to become a self-styled "scholar-activist," revolutionizing academic and public discourse on the substance of sport and society. According to journalist Robert Lipsyte, "No other single figure in sports has done as much to make the country aware that the problems of the larger culture are recapitulated in sports, that the arena is no sanctuary from drugs, racism and corruption."

Author of "Sociology of Sport" and "Revolt of the Black Athlete," among other publications, Edwards counsels students and professional athletes alike to pursue "disciplined analysis, understanding, and application at the pitch of passion." Edwards was the architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which begot the black power salute by sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Edwards has consulted with the NFL, NBA and MLB on issues associated with minority representation among athletes, coaches, front office executive and ownership.

About the McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society
The McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society is TPSM's capstone event, created to bring to life a robust and interactive conversation about the role of sports and media and their collective effects on American culture. Named after and created by University of Texas at Austin alumnus Cappy McGarr, the conference brings academics and working professionals to campus to discuss sports-related public policy issues, cultural challenges and societal imperatives of sport consumption behavior. The 2013 McGarr Symposium featured a discussion with Greg and Kathy LeMond, Betsy Andreu, Bill Bock and Reed Albergotti, regarding the culture of doping in profession cycling. In addition to these topical events, the McGarr Symposium is the presenting sponsor of the Dr. Harry Edwards Lecture on Sport and American Culture and the Frank Deford Lecture on Sports Journalism.

About The University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication
One of the nation's foremost institutions for the study of advertising and public relations, communication sciences and disorders, communication studies, journalism and radio-TV-film, The University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication is preparing students to thrive in an era of media convergence. Serving more than 4,700 undergraduate and graduate students, Moody College is nationally recognized for its faculty members, research and student media. For more information about the Moody College of Communication, visit


Contacts: Laura Byerley, (512) 471-2182; Christopher Hart, (512) 471-2431.

Marc Speir
Senior Content Producer