Sociology Commencement 2024

The Dept. of Sociology hosted commencement on Monday, May 13, 2024 at 9am in Zellerbach Hall. 

2024 Commencement Video 

Commencement Speaker

Harry Edwards talk flyer


Harry Edwards was born in St. Louis, Missouri and  grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois.  He attended East St. Louis Senior High , graduated in 1960,  and after a semester at Fresno City College in Fresno , California was awarded an athletic scholarship to San Jose State University from which he graduated in 1964 with high honors.  He subsequently was on the draft boards of professional football and basketball teams as well as being   awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a University Fellowship to Cornell University. He chose to attend Cornell  where he completed M.A. and a Ph.D. degrees in sociology.  He was on the faculty of California at Berkeley from 1970 – 2000 and currently is Professor Emeritus in the UC  Department of Sociology.

From 1992 through 2001, Dr. Edwards was a consulting inmate counselor at the San Francisco County Jail at San Bruno, California and periodically worked with inmate programs at California’s San Quentin State Prison.  From 2001 through 2003, Dr. Edwards was Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the City of Oakland, California.

Dr. Edwards also has a long and storied history of activism focused upon developments at the interface of sport, race, and society.  The combination of his experiences as an African-American, as an athlete , and his training in the discipline of sociology was at the foundation of his stipulation in the late 1960’s that America had persistently accommodated  issues of inequity and discrimination in sports no less than in society . He ultimately called for Black athlete protests and a boycott of the United States 1968 Olympic team in large part to dramatize  the racial inequities and barriers confronting Blacks in both sport and society.  The movement resulted in both demonstrations and boycotts by Black athletes of sports events across the nation ultimately involving  the Mexico City Olympic games – the most dramatic protest of which is commemorated by a 24-foot high statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the campus at San Jose State University.  

By the onset of the 1980’s , much of his perspective on the state of sport in society had been widely accepted even within the sports establishment and  Dr. Edwards was a highly sought after consultant on issues of diversity for all three major sports.  He was hired by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1987 to help with efforts to increase front office representation of minorities and women in baseball.  He also worked with the Golden State Warriors of the NBA from 1987 through 1995, specializing in player personnel recruitment, development,  and counseling.  In 1986, he began work with the San Francisco 49ers in the area of player personnel counseling and program development . The programs and methods that he and HOF Coach Bill Walsh  developed for handling player personnel issues were adopted by the entire NFL in 1992, as was their Minority Coaches’ Internship Program developed and instituted to increase opportunities for minority coaches in the NFL.

Over his career, Harry Edwards has persisted in efforts to compel the sports establishment to confront and to effectively address issues pertaining to diversity and equal opportunity within its ranks.  Edwards, a scholar-activist who became spokesperson for what amounted to a revolution in sports, is now considered the leading authority on developments at the interface of race, sport, and society and was a pioneering scholar in the founding of the “Sociology of Sport“ as an academic discipline. Dr. Edwards’ career-long dedication to teaching and education has been memorialized with the establishment of the   “Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss Award” by the San Francisco Forty Niners Professional Football Organization to honor outstanding teachers. He is also an inductee into the “Academic All-America Hall of Fame”. In Dublin, Ireland , UNESCO and a consortium of international sports organizations, scholars ,and faculty have created the “ Dr. Harry Edwards International Foundation On Sport And Social Change “..

Dr. Edwards has been a consultant with producers of sports related programs for numerous television and film productions in the United States and abroad over the last 50 years. He has been nominated for two Emmy Awards:  for Showtime’s “The Stage” and for NFL Films , “A Letter To Bill Walsh”.  The feature length Netflix film, “High Flying Bird”, is based upon his book, “The Revolt of the Black Athlete “, a film in which he made a cameo appearance. Dr. Edwards has received dozens of awards and honors, including several honorary doctorate degrees and he was honored by the University of Texas when it established the “Dr. Harry Edwards Lectures”, a series of invited lectures on themes related to sport and society.  He has written scores of articles and four books:  The Struggle That Must Be, Sociology of Sports, Black Students, The Revolt of the Black Athlete. He  has been married for 54 years to his wife  Sandra , and they have two daughters, a son, and two grandsons.