2015 Black New England Conference

Put Me In, Coach

Put Me In, Coach: The Battle to Integrate New England Sports

Featuring Keynote Speakers, Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe Columnist; Gregg Gonsalves, Chairman, Jackie Robinson Foundation; Professor John Hoberman, University of Texas at Austin; and special guest Hall of Fame Olympian Mel Pender

Huddleston Hall, University of New Hampshire

The monumental success of the Black athlete and other players of color in defiance of considerable odds is a remarkable phenomenon, but so too has been the cost of that success. In a quest for hoop dreams and Olympic glory, athletes of color have had to fight many battles on and off the fields, tracks, and courts. This conference will open dialogue around many of these battles and introduce some of our unsung sports heroes.

Presentations and discussion will focus on four main areas, including: College athletics and its ties to educational success and campus life; the shadow of race science and genetics over the careers of non-white athletes; controversial issues of racial disparities in team ownership and management versus team members; and traditions of legacy-building and mentoring amongst both established athletes of color and rising stars.

The Black New England Conference is a regularly occurring 2-day conference that gathers scholars, teachers, researchers, community members and members of local organizations, to share their work and insights on the Black experience past and present in New England. It is both an academic conference and a celebration of Black life and history in New England.



Put Me In, Coach: The Battle to Integrate New England Sports
Friday, October 30, 2015
Huddleston Hall, UNH
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Check in and Registration

UNH football
2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Panel 1
Integration: Narrowing the Athletics-Academics Divide


This panel will examine how athletic and higher education policies as well as academic values impact the success of college athletes on the field and in the classroom.

  • Lewis Byrant, Former Head Basket Ball Coach, Current Director Multicultural Students Services, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School
    Sports and Academics: The Failed Promise-Who’s fault is it?
  • Brandon Thomas, Academic Coordinator, University of New Hampshire Athletics
    The Holistic Black Student Athlete Experience
  • Jessica F. Compton, Former UNH Athlete, Current Doctorial Candidate, University of California at Berkeley

Jackie Robinson


4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Film Screening and Discussion: "The Jackie Robinson Story" (1950) and "42" (2013)


Both movies, "The Jackie Robinson Story" (1950) and "42" (2013) tell the story of how Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball and opened the doors for integration on the sports field. This panel will view and discuss scenes from both movies to explore how the films inform us about race in American in 1950 and, sixty-three years later, in 2013.

  • Delia Konzett, Associate Professor of English and Film Studies, University of New Hampshire
  • Bijan Bayne, Author, "The Courts: Grooming Ground for Leaders"
  • Jason Sokol, Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
PBHT Awards Dinner and Keynote Address

Featured Speaker: Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe Columnist

Sports and Black Opportunity: Equality or The Ultimate Disparity?

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Huddleston Hall Ballroom, UNH

Darwin's Athletes
8:00 - 9:00 a.m.
Check in and Registratio
9:00 - 9:30 a.m.
Opening Address

Featured Speaker: John Hoberman, Professor of Germanic Languages, University of Texas at Austin

Darwin's Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race

This talk will highlight some of the key arguments from Darwin's Athletes where Hoberman compellingly argues that our obsession with sports has come to play a disastrous role in African-American life and a troubling role in our country's race relations.

9:30 - 11:00 a.m.
Panel 2
Sports & the Black Athlete: More Than Just a Game
Martha's Vineyard Basketball


  • Robert Bellinger, Associate Professor of History, Suffolk University
    "The Hope of the Race: African Americans in White Colleges and Universities, 1890-1915"
    This paper will look at African Americans in collegiate athletics from 1890 - 1915. Much of the research presented will focus on schools in New England.
  • Bijan Bayne, Author
    "The Courts: Grooming Ground for Leaders," Summer Basketball on the Cape
    This paper will focus on the development of the summer basketball camp on the Cape beginning in 1970. It was through this league, that participants, led by teenage staffers, were inspired to become educators, administrators, coaches, military officers, and business leaders.
  • Phillip L. Cunningham, Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Sports Studies, Quinnipiac University
    "U Mad Bro?" NFL Player Use of Social Media in Contentious Conversation

battle of the beltway
11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Panel 3
The Sporting Body: Intersections of Gender, Race & Culture in Athleticism

Panelists will focus on the layered experiences of Black women's encounters with narrow constructs of femininity, body size, and ability in the arenas of team sport and personal fitness.

  • Courtney Marshall, Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of New Hampshire
    Ain't I An Athlete: Black Female Fitness In The Age of (Michelle) Obama
    The image of the "strong Black woman" lives in popular culture, but how does this image morph when we talk about physical fitness? From Sojourner Truth's famous demand in her "Ain't I A Woman?" speech that her audience look at her muscled arm to our cultural obsession with First Lady Michelle Obama's and tennis star Serena Williams's arms, black women's supposed superhuman strength has often been used to dehumanize and differentiate them from the fragility and weakness of traditional womanhood. As a result, black female bodies' ability to endure has been used to justify everything from horrific working conditions to rampant sexual abuse to substandard medical care. Meanwhile, fitness has been racialized and classed as something that "black girls don't do." Using images of Michelle Obama and Serena Williams, I trace the contradictory meanings of black female muscle in American culture, locating them within matrices of oppression and traditions of resistance. I end the paper by defining "Black feminist fitness," the concept which animates my work.
  • Robin Hackett, Associate Professor of English, University of New Hampshire
    The Opposite Gender: Black Girls and Lady Police in the Locker Room
    This paper discusses the experiences of two African American girls in gyms and locker rooms, and at athletic events, in Southern New Hampshire. Hysterical white responses to the presence of these kids, in part because they are taken for boys, has been as effective as any official policy of segregation in denying them access to these public facilities and to sporting competitions. This paper describes, from the perspective of the kids' white mother, those white responses, tracks their effects on my kids, and discusses my strategies for preserving access to these facilities despite the aggressive policing we have experienced. This paper suggests that efforts to increase African American women's participation in collegiate sports in New England needs to be coordinated with efforts to improve girls' access to athletic facilities.
  • Whitney Zelee, Boston Football Team, The Renegades

Jackie Robinson book cover
1:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Lunchtime Address

Featured Speaker: Gregg Gonsalves, Chairman Jackie Robinson Foundation

Pioneer Perspective: Building A Legacy and Mentoring the Next Generation


1:45 - 3:15 p.m.
Panel 4
Going Pro: The Cost of Living the Dream


Slave book

What does it take to "go pro"? Admit it. At some point in your athletic career, you've fantasized about becoming a pro player. You know, living that glamorous, celebrity life, rolling in the dough, the adoration, the thrill ...just for doing what you love. Or, is there a more? On this panel, we will hear the true stories of athletes who have fought to live their dreams and what living the dream has meant.

  • Charlie Davis, Major League Soccer New England Revolution
  • Dwight Davis, Retired NBA Player, Vice Chair National Basketball Retired Players Association
  • Mark Johnson, Author, Basketball Slave: The Andy Johnson Harlem Globetrotter Story
  • Martin Kessler, Producer, Only a Game

The youngest son of Harlem Globetrotter Andy Johnson, Mark Johnson will presents an account of his father's life: from the cotton fields of Louisiana through playing basketball barefoot on the streets of Hollywood to the professional basketball auction block.


3:30 - 4:45 p.m.
Panel 5
Going for Gold: Black Olympians Breaking Records & Breaking Barriers


Perhaps one of the most iconic images from the Olympic games occurred when African American medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved hands in the Black Power salute during their medal ceremony. The backlash they received from the Olympic Committee (stripped of their medals) and from the American public in general showed that although the Olympics might be about athletic competition first and foremost, it's also no stranger to the politics of race. Panelists will share their stories of going for Olympic Gold.

  • Mel Pender, Track & Field Olympian
  • Seba Johnson, U.S. Virgin Islands Ski Team Olympian
  • Vincent De'jon Parrette, "Vinx", Musician & Olympian
Closing Performance

Rev. Robert Thompson, Phillips Exeter Accademy

Put Me In, Coach: The Battle to Integrate New England Sports
Lewis Byrant
Lewis Byrant
Former Head Basket Ball Coach, Current Director of Multicultural Students Services Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

Mr. Bryant has worked at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School for the past 33 years, he is the proud husband of the Honorable Judge Helen Brown-Bryant, father of five and grandfather of seven. During his time at BB&N he has coached football, baseball, basketball and softball, taught in the history department, been an interviewer and outreach for the admissions office, and has been a member of the schools administrative team for the past 26 years. He describes himself as a youth advocate and in that capacity has been involved with numerous youth programs in Boston's inner city and beyond. Mr. Bryant is also a recognized expert on diversity and inclusion and has consulted with numerous private schools and organizations, both regionally and nationally. A former private school student himself, he believes strongly in the power of "quality education" to change lives, and has committed his personal and professional life to supporting students, particularly students of color, in the pursuit of a quality education and a quality life. He has very strong opinions about the role of athletics in young people of color's life and the potential for adult and institutional exploitation of athletes of color and failed promises.

Brandon Thomas
Academic Coordinator, University of New Hampshire Athletics

Brandon Thomas is the current student-athlete support coordinator for the University of New Hampshire Athletic dept. He has worked at 4 different universities in 4 different states(Winthrop University, Belmont Abbey College, University of North Dakota, & University of New Hampshire). Born and raised in Myrtle beach, SC, Brandon chose to stay close to home and attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. At Winthrop, he gained a bachelors in English and his masters in sports and fitness administration. With a passion on the intersection between sports and race, he has presented on, black student-athlete leadership, colorism, and black experiences at predominantly white institutions. He has a passion for guiding young people and thoroughly enjoys exposing people to new experience.

Jessica F. Compton
Jessica Compton
Fomer UNH Athlete, Current Doctorial Candidate University of California at Berkeley

Jessica Compton is a 2nd year graduate student and Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow in Sociology specializing in stratification, economic sociology, race, and mixed methods. Prior to attending Berkeley, Compton worked for the Urban Institute and Annie E. Casey Foundation. Her work primarily focused on policies and service systems relating to household financial decision making, workforce development, and public benefit receipt, and experimental evaluation research. Compton earned a Master in Public Policy as a Rackham Fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

T. J. McKay-Martin
Producer Undefeated

T.J. Martin is an Oscar winning director and editor, known for Undefeated (2011), ...Loves Martha (2005) and My Favorite Picture of You (2013).

Delia Konzett
Delia Konzett
Assistant Professor of English and Cinema Studies, University of New Hampshire

Delia Konzett is Assistant Professor of English and Cinema/American/Women's Studies at UNH. She is the author of Ethnic Modernisms and is currently working on WWII Film and Orientalism

Jason Sokol
Jason Sokol
Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire

Jason Sokol specializes in twentieth-century American politics, race, and civil rights. Sokol was raised in Springfield, MA. He graduated from Oberlin College, and received his doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights (Alfred A. Knopf), which was named one of Jonathan Yardley’s 10 best books of 2006 in the Washington Post Book World. Sokol is also the author of All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn (Basic Books, 2014).

Derrick Jackson
Derrick Z. Jackson
Columnist Boston Globe

An award-winning columnist for the Op-Ed section, Jackson is a 2001 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary, a 2-time winner of opinion awards from the Education Writers Association and a 9-time winner from the National Association of Black Journalists. He also is known for his nature photography, and his images of Barack Obama have been exhibited by Boston's Museum of African American History

John Hoberman
John Hoberman
Professor Department of Germanic Studies, University of Texas at Austin

John Hoberman is a social and cultural historian who has researched and published extensively in the fields of sports studies, race studies, human enhancements, medical history, and globalization studies. His work in sports studies encompasses race relations, politics and the Olympics, and performance-enhancing drug use. His interests in medical history include the social and medical impacts of androgenic drugs (anabolic steroids) and the history of medical racism in the United States. He has lectured at many medical schools and other medical institutions on this topic.

Robert Bellinger
Robert Bellinger
Associate Professor of History, Suffolk University

Prof. Bellinger teaches classes in African American and American history, African Diasporan studies, and the history and culture of Senegal. His research interests include late 19th century African American history, West African history and Culture, and West African drum traditions. In addition to his teaching and research, Prof. Bellinger is also involved in training student teachers to teach history in the middle and secondary schools, working on the inclusion of African and African diasporan history and culture into school and university curriculums, and working with study abroad programs that provide students an international, cross-cultural enhancement of their academic work.

Bijan C. Bayne
Bijan C. Bayne
Sports Historian & Author

Bijan C. Bayne is a sports historian who has researched, written for, and been interviewed in various films and television shows. In April 2014, he appeared on TV One's "Unsung Hollywood"'s episode "The Harlem Globetrotters". The same year, he was interviewed and featured in Brian Culkin documentary "The Mission". In 2015, Bayne co-wrote, directed, and helped cast the pilot for the reality series "Team of Dreams". In August 2009, he served as moderator for the Filmmakers' Panel at the seventh annual Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival (on the topic "Black Film In The Age of Obama"). Bayne is a project adviser for a documentary film about Martha's Vineyard (A Sense of Place). He appears in the documentary on the historic International League Baltimore Orioles, "The Forgotten Birds". Bayne has served as a consultant for film, television clients such as Aviva Kempner, WHUT Channel 32 (Washington PBS), and WTTH in Chicago, Spike Lee, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's On The Shoulders of Giants, and CINE. He served as Washington publicist for the award-winning film, "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg". Bayne conducted research for Aviva Kempner's documentary "The Rosenwald Schools", and has been featured on television shows such as WHUT Washington, D.C.'s "At Howard". He divides his time between Washington, D.C. and Martha's Vineyard.

Phillip Cunningham
Phillip L. Cunningham
Assistant Professor Media Studies & Sports Studies, Quinnipiac University

Phillip Lamarr Cunningham, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Sports Studies Minor at Quinnipiac University. His research primarily focuses on the construction of ethnic, racial, and gender identities in popular culture. Other scholarly work has appeared in Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, and M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Culture and various anthologies.

Courtney Marshall
Courtney Marshall
Founder, "Wrong Is Not My Name: Black Feminist Fitness"
Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of New Hampshire

Courtney is a powerlifter, CrossFitter, obstacle course racer, hooper, rope jumper, pole dancer, bikram yogi, triathlete, and lover of all things dance fitness related. She is also the founder of "Wrong Is Not My Name," a Black feminist fitness program that provides free and low cost fitness services and education to underserved populations, specifically body-positive fitness coaching, diversity training for fitness professionals, and free group exercise and personal training sessions. She serves on the boards of several organizations devoted to body positivity and inclusive models of fitness.

Robin Hackett
Robin Hackett
Associate Professor of English, University of New Hampshire

Robin Hackett is an Associate Professor in the English department at the University of New Hampshire, where she is also coordinator of the Graduate Program in English, and core faculty in women’s studies. Her publications include Sapphic Primitivism: Productions of Race, Class and Sexuality in Key Works of Modern Fiction (Rutgers UP, 2004) and At Home and Abroad in the Empire: British Women Write the 1930s (U of Delaware Press, 2009). Robin’s current work-in-progress is titled “Notes from the Compost Heap.”

Whitney Zelee
Whitney Zelee
Running Back for the Renegades, Boston Female Football Team

Whitney, a Boston native, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2010. With no prior football experience, she began playing women’s tackle football in 2011 for the Boston Militia. Whitney went on to win two National Championships with the Boston Militia. Along the way, she has broken numerous records, including being the only football player, male or female, to rush for over 300 yards in four separate games during one season. During the 2013 season, Whitney rushed for a total of 2128 yards and had over 34 touchdowns, a feat that has yet to be accomplished by any male player in the history of the NFL.

Gregg Gonsalves
Gregg Gonsalves
Chairman of the Jackie Robinson Foundation since 2006

Gregg Gonsalves is an investor with Integrated Capital LLC, a leading, hotel-focused, private real estate advisory and investment firm. Prior to joining Integrated Capital LLC, he was a Managing Director in Goldman, Sachs & Co.'s Real Estate Group and Mergers Leadership Group, and was the Partner responsible for Goldman's Real Estate Merger & Acquisition Business. He joined Goldman Sachs' Mergers & Acquisitions Department as an Associate in 1993 and was promoted to Vice President in the Investment Banking Division in 1997; ran Goldman's Aerospace and Defense Sector from 1999 - 2007; and began running the Real Estate M&A Group in 2008. He was promoted to Managing Director in 2001 and became a Partner in 2004

Charlie Davis
Charlie Davis
Major League Soccer New England Revolution

Charles Desmond "Charlie" Davies, born in Manchester New Hampshire, is an American soccer player who plays as a striker with the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer. Davies set several soccer records at his high school, the Brooks School, before appearing for the Boston College Eagles and the Westchester Flames in college. Davies signed his first professional contract with Swedish Allsvenskan club Hammarby IF in December 2006 before joining Sochaux in July 2009

Dwight Davis
Dwight Davis
Retired NBA Player, Chair National Basketball Retired Players Association

Dwight E. Davis is a retired American professional basketball player. After playing college basketball at the University of Houston from 1969–72, Davis was selected as the 3rd overall pick of 1972 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nicknamed "Double D," Davis played for five seasons in the NBA with two teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers (1972–75) and Golden State Warriors (1975–77). The 6 ft 8 in forward averaged 8.6 points in 340 career regular season games. Dwight was inducted into the "Hall of Honor" at the University of Houston in November 2006, some 34 years after leaving. He still holds many records for his rebounding, blocked shots and scoring. In 2007, Davis was appointed by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch to the N.H. Workforce Youth Council, and in 2008 he became the chair.[1] He is also a board member of the Greater Seacoast United Way. Dwight spends much of his free time working with at risk teens with lessons on and off the court.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson the youngest son of Harlem Globetrotter Andy Johnson is an author and respected professional business man. An advocate for young people, Mark is making his name through sharing his father's untold history. While helping and teaching young people how important an education is in today's society, he see a drastic need to talk about the price they pay they may pay when institutions of any kind are not looking after their best interest. He is a graduate from the State University at Old Westbury and holds a BS in science. Passing this history along teaches young children to stay in school and not only to seek careers choices they have seen, but to explore new avenues as well.

Martin Kessler
Martin Kessler

Martin Kessler is a producer with Only A Game, NPR's weekly sports show. Produced out of WBUR in Boston, Only A Game focuses on social issues in sports. Prior to joining Only A Game, Martin served as sports chair for The Crimson, Harvard's daily student newspaper. He also covered the men's basketball team for four seasons. He's a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mel Pender
Mel Pender
Track & Field Olympian

Melvin "Mel" Pender, Jr. is an American athlete, winner of a gold medal in the 4x100 m relay at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He was a decorated Vietnam war combat veteran, serving in the U.S. Army for 21 years and retiring at the rank of captain in 1976. While in the U.S. Army, early in his service, Pender took up athletics, where his incredible quickness was noticed in camp football games. His progress was remarkable and he was selected to the 1964 Olympic Team. At the Mexico Olympics, the American 4x100 m relay team won the gold medal in a new world record of 38.24. Mel set world records in the 50 yds at 5.0, 60 yds at 5.8, 70 yds at 6.8 and 100 meters at 9.9. Pender is in several halls of fame. What people don't know is he didn't run track until the age of twenty five while he was serving in Okinawa with the82nd Airborne Division.
After his athletics career Pender earned a bronze star in Vietnam and worked as the head track coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Seba Johnson
Seba Johnson
U.S. Virgin Islands Ski Team Olympian

Seba, a vegan since birth, was only 14 when she competed in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, making her an Olympic legend as both the youngest Alpine skier in history as well as the first black female skier in history. Nearly 25 years later, she remains the only black woman to ski competitively in the Olympic Games. As a barrier-breaking teenaged athlete, she was rewarded for her achievements not with laurels but with prejudice, violent opposition, and death threats for participating in a white man's sport.

Musician and Olympian

Vincent De' Jon Parrette, Vinx's name before being discovered by Sting and signed to his Pangea label, attended Kansas State University on a track scholarship. In 1977, hate nearly took away his athletic career and his life when racists burned down his house, along with the home of another black family living in his Kansas City suburb. Vinx was severely burnt by the fire. He overcame his injuries and three years later made the world's second longest leap in the triple jump. This qualified Vinx for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. When President Jimmy Carter called for an Olympic boycott that year, Vinx's athletic goals were put on hold. Vinx currently lives in New Hampshire.