In Frederick, Terry Anne Scott is known primarily as the director of African American studies and an associate professor of American history at Hood College.
But what some local residents may not know, is that the accomplished professor and department director has used her research to publish a book about the diversity and social progress of sports in Seattle.
“Seattle Sports: Play, Identity, and the Pursuit of Credibility in the Emerald City” is an anthology that is part of a series about the history of sports in urban areas, and is available now online.
Scott earned her doctorate in history from the University of Chicago, where she was awarded a fellowship from the University’s Board of Trustees. Her research and teaching interests focus on urban history, the intersection of sports and race, African American social and cultural history, and political and social movements.
She recently answered a few questions via email about her book, background and future works.
Besides being an editor, you are also a professor at Hood College. Can you tell me about that role and how you balanced it with editing this book?
Scott: I am the author of several books … “Lynching and Leisure: Race and the Transformation of Mob Violence in Texas” (forthcoming) … explores how lynching, once a strictly punitive and largely clandestine form of political and labor domination, evolved into publicly viewed, well-attended, frequently commercialized exhibitions of racialized violence. I am the editor of “Seattle Sports: Play, Identity, and the Pursuit of Credibility in the Emerald City,” an anthology that is part of an award winning series on the history of sports in urban areas. My latest work is an authorized biography, entitled “From Bed-Stuy to the Hall of Fame: The Unexpected Life of Lenny Wilkens” (forthcoming). I explore how the three-time Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, who is best known for winning the 1979 NBA championship as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, was also a quiet foot soldier in the struggle for racial equality.
Are you planning any more book projects or anything else similar in the future?
Scott: I regularly lecture about race, sports and social movements around the country. I have spoken at Microsoft, the Seattle Art Museum, Weinberg Center for the Arts, and the Veterans Affairs office. [I appear] regularly on WYPR, the Baltimore NPR station. [I also conduct] workshops on the history of voting rights and lead tours of African American history in Montgomery, Alabama.
Additionally, I am the resident historian for Project Pilgrimage, an organization that takes a group of interracial and intergenerational people from across the country on a journey twice each year through multiple southern states to explore the history of the modern Civil Rights Movement. My husband, Warren, and I have three daughters. Our twins are freshman at NYU, and our youngest daughter is in fifth grade.
You are listed as the editor of “Seattle Sports: Play, Identity, and Pursuit in the Emerald City.” What exactly did that entail, and how did you get involved with the book?
Scott: When I was teaching at the University of Washington, I taught a course on the history of African Americans and Sports. I reached out to several individuals who would be wonderful speakers in the course. One of them was Coach Lenny Wilkens, who graciously spoke on multiple occasions. It was when he was in my class that I started to discover what sports meant to people in Seattle. I am a Chicago transplant who moved to Seattle in 2006. The students wore SuperSonics championship shirts, even though they were born after the championship. This increased my interest in local sports.
I contacted Dr. David K. Wiggins, the series editor, about working with him. He mentioned that he would love to have a book on the history of sports in Seattle, and “Seattle Sports” was born.
I set out to make a volume that include issues related to gender, race, sexuality and ethnicity. I also wanted to examine protest. So this volume does all of that. I am very pleased with and proud of this. Seven of the 10 contributors are women. This is highly unusual for a book on sports. It was important to me to include voices that are often overlooked. The book has a chapter written by Dr. Rita Liberti, for instance, about how members of the LGBTQ+ community used softball as a forum for collective action and social / political change. I write about Lenny Wilkens as a quiet civil rights activist. Another chapter examines Japanese sports during the interwar years. One chapter is a personal recollection that discusses the centrality of local basketball on the national scene.
What is your connection to Seattle and the sports scene?
Scott: My husband and I moved to Seattle from Dallas in 2006 to live closer to my parents, who had moved there from Phoenix just a few years prior to that. We had 4-year-old twins, so we wanted for them to be close to their grandparents. I began teaching at the University of Washington in the Department of Ethnic Studies, where I taught courses on the history of African Americans. One of the courses I taught was the History of African Americans and Sports. It was a wildly popular course taken by students from various backgrounds. It made me truly realize how central sports are to the lives of so many. It also helped me to really hone my understanding of how sports are a microcosm of macro social and political issues.
Is there anything else you think people should know about the book before they read it?
Scott: As I mentioned [earlier], I am very proud of the fact that seven of the 10 contributors are women. This is quite unusual for a volume on sports. Moreover, you do not have be a fan of sports to enjoy this book as the issues addressed are timely and reflect larger social and political issues and accomplishments. It is a book about perseverance and triumph in the face of challenge.
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