Photo by: Heather J. McClelland
A former collegiate athlete herself, Lori uses the lens of sports to study important issues of race, education and class, revealing the ways in which race and sports are related historically and in contemporary times.
Born and raised in Nyack, New York, Lori has published numerous books on race, education and athletics, and is a leading voice on racial disparities in athletic programs and the ongoing debate over the compensation of student-athletes.
Her latest book, Black Women as Leaders: Challenging and Transforming Society, will be published in 2019. In addition to her academic work, Lori is also active in efforts to honor and remember the sacrifices of people of color in their struggles for justice. She played a leading role in the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project’s recognition of the historic 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott and has co-authored a book uncovering the history of African Americans in South Baton Rouge.
We recently spoke with Lori ahead of her March 23 TEDxLSU talk about her research, her prolific writing and her life outside of academia. Check out the highlights of the conversation below.
How did you come to study race in athletics? Why do you believe it is such an important topic to explore?
I found that talking about athletics was a great pedagogical strategy for discussing race, which can be a very controversial subject. I also found that many people think they know a lot about race and about sports but few people consider the ways in which race and sports are related historically and in contemporary times.
Are there any lessons from your collegiate sports career that have stuck with you to this day?
I learned that sports are about more than individual contests. Sports is about more than entertainment, especially from the perspective of student-athletes. Being a student-athlete is hard work and sometimes the pain experienced by student-athletes is masked by the enjoyment of the fans.
What is something interesting that you learned through the research of your South Baton Rouge book?
I learned about the historic South Baton Rouge community and its historic role in the global civil rights movement. The 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott should be more well known by area residents and the nation as a whole.
What prompted your work with The Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project?
I think it is important to honor and remember the sacrifices of people of color in their struggles for justice. The Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project is an important effort to promote the preservation of historical memory for historically marginalized groups.
If you weren’t doing the work you do now, what would you be doing?
I cannot imagine doing anything else. Writing, conducting research, and encouraging people to think critically about seemingly mundane subjects are all really important to me. It is what I do and who I am.
What do you do to relax and unplug from your work?
I enjoy walking on the treadmill and playing Words with Friends with my uncle and cousin.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I have completed the Louisiana Marathon twice and the Northshore Half Marathon twice. I enjoy completing races for a good cause.
What is your superpower?
My superpower is motherhood. It empowers me with patience, understanding and unconditional love.
To learn more about Lori or about TEDxLSU 2019, follow TEDxLSU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Reserve your seat now to experience her talk, as well as the talks of all of the other TEDxLSU 2019 speakers.