Created by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism in 2015, the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award is presented annually to a sports journalist or broadcaster who has made significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports.
The winner is chosen by a committee comprised of members of the Povich Advisory Board.
In 2021, the committee selected late Philadelphia sportswriter John Smallwood '87. Smallwood's distinguished career as a reporter and sports columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer spanned three decades.
Smallwood died in December following a long illness. The Povich Center presented the award to Smallwood’s family during a virtual ceremony April 27. You can view the ceremony, here.
Past Winners Include
2015: Claire Smith
2016: James Brown
2017: Bill Rhoden
2018: Michael Wilbon
2019: Bob Costas
2020: No winner due to COVID19
2021: John Smallwood
2022: Christine Brennan
About Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith
Sam Lacy was an African-American and Native American sportswriter who was a reporter, columnist, editor and TV/Radio host. He worked for the Washington Tribune, the Chicago Defender and the Baltimore Afro-American where he wrote about baseball’s need for integration and Jackie Robinson’s ascent to the Major Leagues. He was the first African-American member of the Baseball Writers of America Association. He won the Red Smith Award for contributions to sports journalism in 1998. Lacy died in 2003 at the age of 99.
Wendell Smith was an African-American sportswriter who covered the Negro leagues for many African-American newspapers and boxing for the Chicago Tribune. He was also a TV sports anchor in Chicago and sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Smith was a chronicler of Jackie Robinson for the Pittsburgh Courier and is credited with encouraging Branch Rickey to give Robinson an opportunity to play in the major leagues. Smith died in 1972 at the age of 58.