Photo credit: Keith Allison (Creative Commons)
- a former NBA player, activist and poet - will speak about athletes and activism at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 29, in Bellarmine University's Frazier Hall.
"This is going to be an impactful discussion on the power of athletes using their voices and the criticisms that come along with that," said Thomas. "Many people want athletes to simply shut up and play, especially when they express an opinion that differs from theirs. However, this current generation of athletes is unafraid, fearless, ready and willing to take stances on what is important to them."
Copies of his latest book, "We Matter: Athletes and Activism," will be available for purchase at the event, which is sponsored by Bellarmine's Institute For Media, Culture & Ethics and the YUM! Brands Foundation.
"Etan Thomas' visit will provide a platform for discussing and dissecting social justice issues that have emerged in modern sports culture," said Dr. Lara Needham, dean of Bellarmine's School of Communication. "From LeBron James being told to 'shut up and dribble' to NFL players choosing to kneel during the national anthem, Etan Thomas will help the Bellarmine community understand the significance of these pivotal moments."
Needham noted that Thomas' talk at Bellarmine on recent activism in American sports comes on the 50th anniversary year of U.S. Olympic track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising black-gloved fists on the medal podium to protest U.S. human rights issues.
Thomas was born in New York and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He played college basketball at Syracuse University, graduating with a degree in business management. He spent a decade playing professionally in the NBA with the Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder and Atlanta Hawks, missing a full year after undergoing open heart surgery for a leaking aortic valve.
Since retiring from professional basketball in 2011, he has written and spoken on a range of topics, including fatherhood, racism, social justice and disaster relief. He has published four books and created the Etan Thomas Foundation, which facilitates youth mentoring on topics including violence, trauma, truancy, goal setting, academic advancement, self-esteem and self-care.