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Oct. 14 Program Will Examine Professional Basketball's Effect on Cities and Society University News
For release: September 29, 2010

For press information, contact Jonathan Judaken, 901-488-7475

The Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities will host an evening with King of the Court author Aram Goudsouzian, Tiger basketball coach Josh Pastner and Rhodes College professor Russ Wigginton to discuss how the lives of basketball stars like the late Lorenzen Wright can affect communities like Memphis.

“Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution” will be presented on Thursday, Oct. 14, in the University Center Theatre on the University of Memphis campus. A reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6:30.

The evening will begin with opening remarks from Pastner. Goudsouzian, an associate professor of history at the U of M, will focus his keynote address on the subject of his book, King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution.  Closing remarks will be made by Wigginton, author of The Strange Career of the Black Athlete: African Americans and Sport.

Admission is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Zach Curlin garage.

Three months after the death of Memphis Tiger star Lorenzen Wright, this event will explore how sports and sports figures have the capacity to unite communities like Memphis that are otherwise deeply divided by race and politics.

While Russell was not the first African-American to play professional basketball, he was the game’s first black superstar. He was the catalyst for a Boston Celtics team that pioneered racial integration. Yet, like no athlete before him, Russell challenged the politics of sport. Instead of keeping silent, he decried racist institutions, embraced his African roots, and challenged the nonviolent tenets of the civil rights movement.

More information about events or programs of the Marcus W. Orr Center is available online at

Specific questions may be addressed to Jonathan Judaken at 901-488-7475.

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