Harry Edwards

Honorary Degrees


San Jose

Harry Edwards is a renowned sociologist and author whose distinguished career has focused on the connections between race, sport and society. He is a scholar, educator and advocate for African-American athletes and a leading authority on the sociology of sports and diversity. The contributions of his distinguished career represent the ideals of the California State University and San José State University.

As an honor student, discus thrower and basketball player at SJSU, Dr. Edwards became the first black student-athlete since the early 1950s to graduate from the university within the time frame of his athletic eligibility.  Eschewing professional sports opportunities, he accepted a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at Cornell University, where he earned a master’s degree prior to serving as a visiting professor at SJSU from 1966 to 1968. During that time, he wrote the book The Revolt of the Black Athlete and was the organizer and faculty sponsor of the United Black Students for Action, which became a forum for the discussion and debate underpinning the Olympic Project for Human Rights movement- the movement that influenced the winner’s podium protest by Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the Mexico City summer games of 1968.

Dr. Edwards earned a Ph.D. from Cornell and became a noted sociology professor—now emeritus—at the University of California, Berkeley, where his writing and research focused on developments at the interface of sport, race and society, particularly as pertains to the experiences of African-Americans. He has written and published scores of articles on the challenges of diversity within the institution of sport demonstrating the potential and promise of the Sociology of Sport - a discipline that he pioneered – to enlighten and to illuminate paths of progressive advancement.  Dr. Edwards’ writings and research have contributed the course and content of both academic and popular press analyses of sports-related issues.  Aside from these avenues of influence, Dr. Edwards has also appeared on national television shows on every major sports and news network and contributed to dozens of documentaries focused on sport and society.

Over the last four decades, professional sports franchises have commissioned his expertise.  Dr. Edwards has been a staff consultant to the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League for more than three decades, and he spent ten years as a counselor and consultant on player personnel development with the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association.  And from 1987 through 1993, he was involved in efforts to develop and hire minority talent for front-office executive positions in Major League Baseball.

New York Times Magazine once described Dr. Edwards as a man “who provokes others to action; a reformer, not a revolutionary.” In recognition of his distinguished accomplishments and inspiration to youths and professionals alike, the California State University Board of Trustees and San José State University are proud to confer upon Harry Edwards the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.​