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A Precarious Perch

A Precarious Perch

Wilt Chamberlain, Basketball Stardom, and Racial Politics

(p.146) A Precarious Perch
Fame to Infamy
Gregory J. Kaliss
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter discusses Wilt Chamberlain’s racial politics, which hounded his image as a college basketball player. Chamberlain’s enlistment in the University of Kansas at Lawrence sparked hope for the black community across the U.S., which expected him to show the university that segregation of blacks and whites is morally and ethically wrong as well as showing that blacks are not inferior to whites through basketball excellence. It notes that his decision to leave the university for the Harlem Globetrotters cast him in a different light in his own school, where he was viewed as a money-grabbing opportunist. Additionally, Chamberlain’s neutrality stance over the issue of the civil rights movement also alienated him from his fellow black Americans, angry and frustrated at his inaction in the civil rights cause.

Keywords:   civil rights cause, segregation, Wilt Chamberlain, University of Kansas, basketball, Harlem Globetrotters

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