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Social Justice Advocate and Former NBA Player Etan Thomas to Speak at Penn State

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Etan Thomas book cover

Author, social justice advocate, and former NBA player Etan Thomas will give a free public lecture on Thursday, March 15, 5:30–7 p.m., in 233A HUB-Robeson Center. He will discuss his latest book, “We Matter: Athletes and Activism,” which includes dozens of interviews—with people like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mark Cuban, and Soledad O’Brien—on the subject of race in America.

Born in 1978 in Harlem, New York, and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Thomas grew up surrounded by books on the civil rights movement and politics in the 1960s. His mother, a teacher, instilled in her two sons the importance of thinking critically and using their platform to make a difference.

Thomas graduated from Syracuse University in 2000 and went on to spend 11 years in the NBA, playing for the Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Atlanta Hawks. In 2005, he released his first book, a collection of poems called “More than an Athlete” (Haymarket Books). In 2012, he released his second book, “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge” (Penguin), which includes his own experiences as a father and stories from others from the worlds of sports and entertainment.

Thomas’ honors include the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation Inc. Legacy Award and the 2010 National Basketball Players Association Community Contribution Award. His writings have appeared in “The Washington Post”, Huffington Post, CNN, and ESPN, among others. He frequently can be seen on MSNBC as a special correspondent for “hot topics.”

His talk is co-sponsored by the Multicultural and Diversity and Inclusion Offices of the Bellisario College of Communications and Colleges of Arts and Architecture, Agricultural Sciences, Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Liberal Arts, as well as the Paul Robeson Cultural Center and the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.

For more on Etan Thomas, visit his website: