Take a Knee: Pursuing Racial and Social Justice in Sports

2023 Spring Symposium

  • Friday, April 28, 2023
  • 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. 
  • Bowie State University
    Fine and Performing Arts Center Building, Dionne Warwick Theater
    14000 Jericho Park Road
    Bowie, MD, 20715

 The 2023 symposium looks to build on the legacy and momentum of the Social Justice Alliance by exploring the intersections of social justice and athletics. A panel discussion will address racial injustice and inequity and help participants develop tools and strategies to advance racial justice and healing. Campus and community leaders will also be honored at the symposium for their commitment to social justice and activism.

The Social Justice Alliance continues to honor the legacy of BSU student 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III, who was murdered in 2017 by a UMD student.

Hosted by the BSU/UMD Social Justice Alliance and the 2nd Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III Foundation.

Athletic Panel

 Etan Thomas (born April 1, 1978) is an American former professional basketball player who played for the Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is also a published poet, freelance writer, activist, and motivational speaker, as well as a co-host of Centers of Attention, a sports talk show on ESPN Radio Syracuse in Syracuse, New York, alongside former professional basketball player Danny Schayes. In his book, More Than an Athlete, Thomas discusses how the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) runs as a business, and not to the service of the student athletes. After his wife was injured in college, the NCAA fought to take away her scholarship, and therefore, her ability to pay for and attend college. He points out the hypocrisy in an organization who makes billions a year and claims that there is not enough funding available for their main sources of profit, the athletes.

 Owner of the Dominique Dawes Gymnastics & Ninja Academies, Dominique Dawes opened the gyms to continue her commitment to developing a healthy and compassionate culture in the sport of gymnastics. Her first academy opened in the midst of a global pandemic, July 2020 and her second location is slated to open in early 2023. Dawes also holds minority ownership of the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League, and served as the co-chair of the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition under the Obama administration alongside Drew Brees. Alongside LeBron James and Maverick Carter, she recently served as Executive Producer of the Peacock docu-series “Golden”, the journey of USA’s elite gymnasts on the road to the Tokyo Olympics, which has been nominated for a Sports Emmy. 

Dawes holds her degree from the University of Maryland and was inducted into UMD's prestigious Hall of Fame in 2022.   In 2023, her hometown of Montgomery County, Maryland will honor her career and legacy with a life size statue to continue inspiring the next generation to follow in her footsteps.

As a wife, mother of four, Olympian and business owner, Dominique Dawes has transcended the world of sports, politics, entertainment and culture.

 Marissa is a ten-year WNBA veteran and former No. 2 overall draft pick but strived to be defined by more than her achievements on the court. She eclipsed 2,000 career points during the 2017 season and was an All-Star leading her Indiana Fever to the Finals in 2015. Overseas she was a three-time Final-Four participant, four-time League Champion and Turkey and French
all-league member. Her passion for giving back and philanthropy drove her to start an AAU organization mentoring young females in the Washington metropolitan area in 2013. Entrepreneurship and business endeavors have also been a passion for her, and she sought to create an avenue for current and future female athletes to succeed in the business world. After retiring from the league, Marissa opened a Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant in Roanoke, Va., with former LA Sparks teammate Alana Beard. She worked at the forefront of the betting industry, including chairing the campaign (Vote ‘Yes’ on question 2) that helped successfully bring legalized sports betting to the state of Maryland. The campaign focused on education and how tax revenue from legalized sports betting would support Maryland public education. In tandem, Marissa worked with state lawmakers and lobbyists to ensure meaningful women and minority participation existed in legislation. Marissa is currently the head of business development for the start-up company, The Gaming Society, which is a gamification platform that aims to democratize the sports betting landscape, as well as using sports betting as a tool to bring more visibility to women’s sports. The company was co-founded by Jaymee Messler (the Players Tribune) and Kevin Garnett (NBA Hall of Famer).

  • Ten-year WNBA veteran and former No. 2 overall draft pick
  • Eclipsed 2,000 career points during the 2017 season and was an All-Star leading her Indiana Fever to the Finals in 2015
  • Overseas she was a three-time Final-Four participant, four-time League Champion and Turkey and French all-league member
  • After retiring from the league, Marissa opened a Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant in Roanoke, Va., with former LA Sparks teammate Alana Beard
  • Worked at the forefront of the betting industry, including chairing the campaign (Vote ‘Yes’ on question 2) that helped successfully bring legalized sports betting to the state of Maryland. The campaign focused on education and how tax revenue from legalized sports betting would support Maryland public education. In tandem, Marissa worked with state lawmakers and lobbyists to ensure meaningful women and minority participation existed in legislation
  • Had an opportunity to work in the front office with the Washington Commanders but instead became the head of business development for Gaming Society!

 Kevin Blackistone is a longtime national sports columnist now at The Washington Post, a panelist on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” a contributor to National Public Radio, a professor at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and co-author of “A Gift for Ron,” a memoir by former NFL star Everson Walls published in November 2009 that details his kidney donation to one-time teammate Ron Springs. Kevin co-produced and co-wrote the award-winning film Imagining the Indian, a 2021 documentary on the history of and fight against mascoting Native Americans.

Blackistone was an award-winning sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News from September 1990 to September 2006.

In 1981, he started his journalism career in earnest as a city reporter at The Boston Globe. In 1983, he moved to Chicago to write for The Chicago Reporter, a monthly investigative magazine on Chicago’s racial and social issues. In 1986, Blackistone joined The Dallas Morning News as a general assignment reporter on the city desk before joining the business desk, where he covered economics for several years.

In 1990, after covering Nelson Mandela’s U.S. tour, Blackistone moved to the sports page where over the next 16 years he covered the Summer Olympics, Super Bowl, Wimbledon, the World Cup, the Tour de France, the British Open, the NBA Finals, Final Four, national college football championship, NFL playoffs, Major League Baseball playoffs, world championship boxing matches and other events more than once. For three years in the late ’90s, he also wrote the sports column at Emerge, a monthly review of politics and culture that Time magazine hailed as an “uncompromising voice that made [it] the nation’s best black news magazine.”

From 2007 to 2011, he wrote a sports column for AOL Fanhouse, opining from Africa’s first World Cup that was held in South Africa in 2010 as well as from Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

Blackistone is a recipient of numerous awards, including awards for sports column writing from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, for investigative reporting from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and for enterprise reporting from the National Association of Black Journalists. Blackistone was a Davenport Fellow at the University of Missouri and a Wharton Business Journalism Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Martin Luther King Fellow at Boston University as a graduate student.

Blackistone is on the board of directors of the Society for Features Journalism Foundation and he serves on the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Task Force on Recruiting for Academic Diversity.

He has authored academic journal articles on diversity in sports media and hagiography in sports film documentary. He was a visiting lecturer at Beijing Sport University in summer 2014.

 Tonia Walker is the Senior Associate Commissioner for Strategic Communications & External Operations/Primary Liaison for SWA, Walker was named the 2022 Nike NAIA Division II Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA) and she was named the 2016 NCAA Division II Administrator of the Year. In 2008, Walker was the NACWAA recipient of the Nell Jackson Award, which is bestowed to an athletic administrator who exemplifies the qualities of Dr. Nell Jackson. Walker is also a 2004 graduate of the NACWAA/HERS Institute and 2005 NACWAA Executive Institute, serving to enhance opportunities for women to move into positions as athletics directors or conference commissioners. Walker is a 2017 graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem and is committed to community engagement and leadership. 

 UMD Student Athlete - Rainelle Jones from Oxon Hill, MD - Graduate Student African-American Studies Major and Earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies. While becoming a Two Time NCAA Blocking Champion and All-Conference (2021/2022). Rainelle has recently surpassed the Program record Blocks as a Middle Blocker for the Maryland volleyball team. 

While being a part of the BigTen Equality Coalition Group dedicated to constructively and collectively recognizing and eliminating racism and hate in our society by creating resources for inclusion, empowerment and accountability.

Rainelle is currently a professional overseas volleyball player and the first American on her previous Italian team.

 BSU Student Athlete- Zion Tyler, Senior History Major from Silver Spring, MD. Zion is member of the BSU Social Justice Alliance Student Advisory Board, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a former Member of the BSU Men’s BSU Track & Field team.





Leadership Panel

 Dr. Aminta H. Breaux has served as the visionary 10th president of Bowie State University since July 2017, bringing more than 30 years of diverse higher education leadership experience to the position. As president, she is committed to ensuring that every student at Bowie State University develops an entrepreneurial mindset to achieve success in the rapidly changing workplace and communities. She is dedicated to building on the legacy and rich history of Maryland’s oldest historically black university with a strategic focus on ensuring the long-term viability of the institution. Dr. Breaux is a leading voice in 21st century education, and because of her extensive knowledge and expertise, she has been tapped to serve in multiple leadership roles. She was appointed to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Governor’s P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland. She also sits on the board of directors of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce and the University of Maryland Capital Region Health. She also serves as chair of Board of Directors for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Strada Education Network.

Previously, Dr. Breaux served as vice president for advancement for Millersville University, where she oversaw fundraising, alumni engagement, event management, and external relations. She had served as vice president for student affairs at Millersville, leading several student-centered areas. She also held administrative positions at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and Drexel University after beginning in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from Temple University, a master’s degree in psychological services in education from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Executive Management and the American Association for State Colleges and Universities Millennium Leadership Institute.

 President Darryll J. Pines serves as president of the University of Maryland as well as the Glenn L. Martin Professor of Aerospace Engineering. In recognition of his contributions to the field, Pines was named a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Institute of Physics. He chairs the Engineering Advisory Committee for NSF’s Engineering Directorate and sits on the Board of Trustees for Underwriters Laboratory not-for-profit arm. Pines received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 Clyde Doughty, Jr. began his tenure as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Bowie State University in January of 2015. In 2018 Doughty was elevated to Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation. Prior to that he spent 38 years at New York Institute of Technology as a Division II student-athlete and athletic administrator. 



 Athletic Director Damon Evans was named the Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics for the University of Maryland on June 25, 2018. He oversees a department with 20 varsity sports and 500 student-athletes, a full-time staff of more than 200, and an annual budget of $95 million. Evans’ philosophy of success for Maryland Athletics is based on the concept of “One Maryland,” a vision to unify the entire Maryland community to achieve unparalleled success in College Park.



 Coach Michael Locksley returned home to become the University of Maryland’s 37th head football coach in December 2018. Locksley, a Washington, D.C. native with deep personal and professional connections to the area, has 30 years of coaching experience and 2022 will be his 14th season with the Terps over three separate stints at Maryland. August 2020, Locksley announced the formation of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches (NCMFC). The NCMFC was formed as a multi-pronged effort to remove roadblocks, increase awareness and spur action toward fair and equitable hiring at all levels of football. The non-profit organization seeks to prepare, promote and produce qualified minority coaches to ascend in the ranks of college and professional football.

 The 2022-23 campaign was Shadae Swan’s eighth season at the helm of the Bowie State University Lady Bulldogs. Swan is the 9th Women’s Basketball Coach in program history. Swan believes, “basketball is more than a sport. It is an instrument that enhances physical endurance, leadership, sportsmanship, time management, respect, loyalty and honesty which are all essential to becoming a successful professional.” 

During her time, she has brought stability and shifted the culture of the program. She has developed a program designed to broaden the basketball knowledge and skill set of student-athletes while enabling students to become critical, diverse and effective leaders on and off the court. Having an extensive educational background, Swan places a huge emphasis on academics. Under her leadership, the cumulative grade point average, retention and graduation rates have consistently moved in an upwards direction.