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Edwards (Harry) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical Information
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Use Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Contents

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Harry Edwards Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS-2016-03-19
    Physical Description: 18 boxes (24.7 linear feet)
    Physical Description: 1 flat file drawers (14 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1960-2023
    Abstract: The Harry Edwards Papers contain items created and collected by Dr. Edwards throughout the course of his more than fifty-year career as a sociologist, scholar, and activist. Through these objects he documents historic moments in the Civil Rights movement, his involvement in professional sports, and academic achievements. Materials in this collection consist of photographs, documents, textiles, magazines, books, manuscripts, news articles, posters and flyers, journals, framed items, and buttons related to Dr. Harry Edwards. The bulk of the content was created in 1967-2002.


    This collection is arranged in seven series based on record type and subject: Series I. Books, Manuscripts, and Speeches, 1965-2023; Series II. Articles, Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers, 1963-2018; Series III. Correspondence, 1967-2013; Series IV. Publicity and Outreach Materials, 1965-2018; Series V. Personal Papers, 1960-1968; Series VI. Photographs and Illustrations,1967-2014; Series VII. Artifacts, Memorabilia, and Textiles, 1962-2019.

    Biographical Information

    Harry Edwards was born on November 22, 1942, in St. Louis, Mo., and raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, the second of eight children. A capable athlete and a gifted student in high school, Edwards relocated to California in 1960 with an athletics scholarship to Fresno City College. He then transferred to San Jose State College, where he graduated in 1964 with a B.A. degree in sociology. Edwards continued his studies, earning his M.A. in 1966 and his Ph.D. in 1970 in sociology from Cornell University. In 2016, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from San Jose State University. Edwards has written numerous articles and books on the sociology of sports and diversity. He later contributed to establishing the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change(ISSSSC) which focused on athlete activism and the influence of sport in effecting positive social change at San José State University in 2017.
    Edwards' interest in the intersection of race, sports and society began when he was a student-athlete. During his time at San Jose State College, he became the captain of the basketball team and a record-setting discus thrower on the track and field team. Due to his presence as a Black athlete in a predominately white school, he experienced and witnessed significant racial discrimination resulted in his becoming active in protests and demonstrations against racism in the late 1960s. After receiving his M.A., Edwards left Cornell University to become a visiting professor at San Jose State College. In 1967, along with then sociology graduate student Kenneth Noel, Edwards created the United Black Students for Action. This organization would define a culture of activism within the college against institutional racism through rallies, protests, and events.
    With the United Black Students for Action, Edwards championed reforms on behalf of Black students within San Jose State College and on a larger scale. This political movement culminated in the creation of the Olympic Project for Human Rights in 1967. Initially calling for Black athletes to boycott the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the project resulted in the famous Black Power salute on the Olympic podium by San Jose State track and field athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
    After finishing his Ph.D. in sociology, Edwards served as a full professor at the University of California at Berkeley from 1970 to 2000., where he continued to study and develop his research into the intersection of race, sports, and society. He served as a guest lecturer at many other universities around the country, even after he retired from U.C. Berkeley.
    Edwards also worked as a consultant for three major professional sports teams and organizations. Starting in 1985, Edwards first worked with the San Francisco 49ers to develop player-oriented programs that were later formally integrated into NFL standard practices in 1992. Additionally, with 49ers coach Bill Walsh, Edwards created the Minority Coaches' Internship Program to increase the number of full-time minority coaches within the NFL through vocational off-season training. In 1987, the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball hired him to help with efforts to increase front office representation of minorities and women in baseball. From 1987 to 1995, Edwards worked with the Golden State Warriors, where he continued his work in developing a positive and sustainable work environment for players. Through these organizations, Edwards was able to formalize methods of assessing and reducing workplace discrimination, as well as uplift minorities and women within professional sports.
    In addition to his work in education and professional sports, Edwards supported community services, consulting with the San Francisco County Jail at San Bruno and San Quentin State Prison as an inmate counselor. In 2000, he was appointed as the city of Oakland's Director of Parks and Recreation, intending to reorganize the infrastructure to create inclusive spaces for young people throughout the city.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Use Restrictions

    Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jose State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Special Collections & Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    Harry Edwards Papers, MSS-2016-03-19, San José State University, Special Collections & Archives.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Alexandra Lynch, 2017. Accruals processed by Kate Steffens, 2018. Accruals processsed by Eilene Lueck, 2022. Accural added by Eilene Lueck, 2023.

    Related Materials

    San José State University Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change Records, MSS-2017-01-24
    San Jose Sate College "Speed City" Collection, MSS-2016-04-25

    Scope and Contents

    The Harry Edwards Papers, 1960-2023 (bulk 1967-1985), documents Dr. Harry Edwards' career as a sociologist, scholar, and activist, beginning in the late 1960s. Composed of correspondence, promotional materials, artifacts, newspaper clippings, publications, and manuscripts, the collection depicts the many phases of Edwards' career. This work includes his involvement in the civil rights movement, his role as a tenured professor at UC Berkeley, his consultation work with professional sports organizations, and his appearances as a guest lecturer at several universities and programs. The majority of the materials concern the civil rights activities spearheaded by Harry Edwards and the United Black Students for Action in 1967. To protest the racial discrimination and segregation of Black athletes within the professional sports industry, Edwards created the Olympic Project for Human Rights, along with many other Black athletes and students. This project culminated in the protest at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where SJSC athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raised their fists in a Black Power salute at the podium. Further efforts by Edwards to mitigate and end racial discrimination were through his consulting work throughout the 1980s and 1990s with professional sports organizations, including the San Francisco 49ers, the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, and the Golden State Warriors.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    San Jose State College -- Sports
    African American athletes
    College sports
    Professional sports
    Civil Rights Movement
    Civil rights -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area
    Olympic Games (19th : 1968 : Mexico City, Mexico)
    Social movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Edwards, Harry, 1942-