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Tommie Smith

Povich Center Book Club

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism continues to host a virtual book club with area high school students. The book club highlights and promotes discussion of sports, race, gender, history and the protest movement. 

This year, the book-club selection is I Came As a Shadow, the autobiography of John Thompson, the legendary Georgetown University basketball coach, written with Jesse Washington of ESPN’s The Undefeated. Coach Thompson died in August, 2020, four months before the book’s publication. 

I Came As A Shadow

Thanks to a generous donation from The Undefeated, the Povich Center was able to provide 485 books to high school students in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City and Washington, D.C. Teachers and classes participating in the book club will incorporate I Came as a Shadow into their curriculum. In February, we will host a virtual discussion and Q&A with Washington, Coach Thompson’s son, John Thompson III, and Merrill College professor Kevin Blackistone (of The Washington Post and ESPN’s Around the Horn).

The Povich Center will also host an essay contest based on the book. Winners will be invited to spend a day at Merrill College, attending classes and having lunch with Povich Center directors Mark Hyman, Kaitlyn Wilson and Blackistone. 

It is our hope that with this program, students will have the opportunity to read and discuss an important book and learn more about Merrill College and the Povich Center and the various opportunities we can offer them in the future

The Povich Center Virtual Book Club is a partnership between the Povich Center and area high school teachers and students. At the start of the semester, the Povich Center chooses a book that combines sports and history. The Center provides copies of the book to participating students. At the end of the semester, the Center hosts a virtual discussion with Merrill College faculty and the book’s authors.

This year's book selection was “Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith" by Tommie Smith and Merrill College alumnus David Steele. The book recounts Smith’s famous medal-stand protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

On Jan. 13, approximately 40 Prince George’s County high school students met via Zoom with Smith, Steele and Kevin Blackistone, Merrill College Professor of the Practice and Washington Post Sports Columnist, to discuss the protest movement in sports and Smith’s legacy as a champion of social justice.

You can learn more about the book club in this piece by Alex Flum from WDVMTV.

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