Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Plano conference to address social and racial injustice in sports

By Rachel Hawkins NDG Staff Writer

It seems that everywhere we look, sports is always surrounded by the themes of speaking out about social and racial injustices. It’s clear that the public has split itself among the two sides, but yet they still have a couple of questions about what it means for them, the NFL, NBA and the entire situation as a whole.

On Saturday, April 14, at Marriott at Legacy Town Center in Plano from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be a conference called Sports and Social Justice – A National Conversation where speakers and the public will be invited to discuss these issues.

These speakers include: Tim Wise, author and activist, Craig Hodges, former NBA player and an author and activist, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, former NBA player and activist, Dr. Marc H. Ellis, author and professor, Heather Mustain, minister of missions and advocacy, Mustafa Carroll, CAIR-Houston Executive Director and civil rights activist, and Joy Stephens, community activist.

“What prompted the conference was when I read a book by Craig Hodge called Long Shot,” Furqan Sunny Azhar, attorney and partner said. “Craig was a member of the first couple of Chicago Bulls championship teams, so as a fan of the NBA, I was familiar with him. His book is an autobiographical account of his time growing up in Chicago, his experiences with racism and his career in basketball. His story is compelling because he spoke truth to power, and paid the price for it. Having spent time thinking about the success of Kaepernick’s movement, and the people that Kaepernick followed (just like Craig Hodges), his book really struck a chord with me.”

“As for the athletics it will continue to be tough for them to speak out at times,” Azhar said. “As TDR famously said – “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” The struggle will continue, but it’s important and worth it.”

“Since more and more players are speaking out it means that people will be forced to confront difficult and important questions about the society we live in, and the kinds of people that we are,” Azhar said. “It’s not something that should be avoided. We need to dispel the narrative that sports should be devoid of politics and social issues. Athletes have a voice, and we should support them in exercising that voice.”

The goals of this conference are intended to be a “conversation.” It will include four sessions, including two panels, but it will also have time after each session to engage the attendees through a Q&A so that they can also be part of the “conversation.”

“I want the attendees to leave the conference invigorated and inspired,” Azhar said.

The speakers were chosen by Azhar depending on name recognition, and speakers with scholarship on issues related to race and social justice as well as local community activities and religious leaders.

When considering certain issues it appears that the public can be involved without the “us vs. them”. “While politics has become more partisan, and race may be the most divisive issue of them all, we need to avoid tribalism,” Azhar said. “By that I mean when we have attitudes that cause us to stick to our group or party, in spite of what other opinions exist, it does little to solve real problems. Our democracy becomes more viable when we can engage in meaningful discourse.”

“This event is so important to the present day because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of our social justice champion, Dr. Martin Luther King,” Azhar said. “Further, this event is timely because we live in the Trump Era, which means we know now, more than ever, that facts matter, and our history matters.”

To register for this event visit:


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