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“Sport is unique in its ability to unite people of different shapes and sizes, ethnicities and faiths and varied experiences and over the course of history.”

Ibtihaj Muhammad
explore the history
1967
Since its inception in 1897, no woman had been permitted to compete in the Boston Marathon. Kathrine “Kathy” Switzer signed in as K.V. Switzer, and moved along to the starting line. Despite officials attempting to pull her off of the course, Switzer eluded them, becoming the first woman to complete the Boston marathon.

“Sports up to that time had been a masculine domain ... Certainly, if [a woman] participated in sports long enough, she's going to grow hair, her legs are going to get all muscular and maybe her uterus was going to fall out.”
—Kathrine Switzer
1968
Described as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised their fists during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 1968 Olympics Medal Ceremony. Smith won the 200 meter track & field race, setting the world record time, and Carlos followed in third place. Smith regards his choice not as a Black Power salute alone, but rather as a Human Rights salute.
1973
Billie Jean King famously defeated Bobby Riggs in the 1973 “The Battle of the Sexes”, proving her point that male and female US Open Champions deserve an equal reward. She advocated on behalf of women, threatening to lead a boycott of the US Open if her demands were not met. She also founded the Women’s Tennis association and was the first prominent female athlete to come out as gay.
2016
Simone Manuel’s historic victory in the 100 meter freestyle in 2016 marks the first time a Black woman has won an individual medal in the Olympics for swimming. She tied for the Gold Medal with Penny Oleksiak, setting an Olympic record time.
2016
In a preseason game on August 26, 2016, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. He continued this act of protest in the following weeks.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
—Colin Kaepernick
Present
August 24, 2019Elijah McClain killed
February 23, 2020Ahmaud Arbery killed
March 13, 2020Breonna Taylor killed
May 25, 2020George Floyd killed
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In the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery’s death, a challenge known as “I run with Maud” gained popularity, in which athletes ran 2.23 miles to raise awareness for Arbery and the day he was killed- February 23.

Thousands of athletes came together for this cause, and have since rallied within their communities to work towards disassembling racist systems and institutions. Athletes have powerful voices, and we encourage you to use yours.
Our Mission
Athletes have a special platform in the United States, as they are often seen as role models for their athletic endeavors and abilities. Those same athletes have thoughts, perspectives, and lives that too frequently goes unnoticed.

At Athletes for Equal Rights, we aim to showcase the experiences of minority athletes as individuals, shed light on relevant social justice issues, and give meaning to statistics through physical activity, which impact the daily life of many athletes.