Follow-Up Interview 2017_PARTI


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Follow-Up Interview 2017_PARTI


Interviews; African American women; African American women athletes; African American professional athletes; Civil rights; Women's rights; Olympics;


This is Part I of the Follow-Up Interview with Dr. Alpha Alexander for my Senior Independent Study Thesis.
***=Interview Questions

Transcript Below:

***DO: So, during our 1st interview, I asked what you knew about Title IX and you mentioned that you had an interview on Voice of America last summer and mentioned that it was Dr. Ellen Staurowsky who reminded you that she heard you speak at Oberlin. When was this talk at Oberlin and how was it? Was it then that you learned about Title IX?

AA: No, actually, uh, when I found out about Title IX it was when Dr. Maria Sexton took me and a group of students from the College of Wooster to Oberlin to hear about Title IX in 1972. I do not remember when years later Dr. Ellen Staurowsky saw me speak at Oberlin and she may know the year and I could be able to send you maybe possibly her email so you can ask (DO: Okay). I remember I was a freshman at the College of Wooster and I remember when Dr. Sexton took us to Oberlin. It was to learn about this thing called Title IX, which was a new law. I did not have a clue what Title IX was before then (DO: Okay). I was a freshman so I was really green right off the branch on that topic (DO: Sure was). And as you know, in 1972 was when the law actually came into action but I don’t remember speaking at Oberlin College and I don’t remember her being there seeing me speak years later. So…that’s about as far as I can give to you on that (DO: Okay).

***DO: You stated that Title IX has had a major impact on women in sport but later you argue that Title IX really did not make much progress for women of color and diversity within the realm of sport. Can you help me understand how Title IX differentially affected women?

AA: I really believe that Title IX made a difference in gender regarding women in sport but when you look back over the years, not a lot of growth in the participation of women of color increased in this area. Uh, specifically look at Chanel Lattimer’s study and how many women of color participated in women sports when her study was completed. And also, due to making Title IX in effect at schools some of the sports were eliminated where there was participation of women of color (DO: Hmm). I also witnessed this working at a HBCU school where women sports were few and not many available. In particular, look at HBCU schools that offer only volleyball, basketball, and maybe softball. What about tennis and golf? Renee Powell and myself tried to get golf started in the SIAC conference and it resulted in a flat no.

DO: What does SIAC stand for?

AA: That’s the conference that Morehouse, uh, it’s a historically HBCU conference. Off the top of my head, I think it is the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (DO: Okay). But if you Google it, it’ll spell out what SIAC means (DO: Okay). And there’s all the schools in there are HBCUs in that conference itself

***DO: Okay, I was going to ask if there were any specific examples that you could recall regarding these issues? So, you mentioned you and Ms. Renee Powell were attempting to get golf.

AA: Yes, we tried to implement golf… but it really resulted into a flat no. So, we could definitely you know, have evolved what I call a non-traditional sport into HBCU and for both men and women… the resources and the dollars. Where I worked at, um, at Lane College eventually they did add softball and that sport apparently, you know, based on the conference eventually Title IX made an impact to, you know, add more sports but you know, the opportunity for HBCU participants particularly with the African American female, I think it is important to take a look…it would be amazing research study to look go back in history and sort of review what the growths of the women sports in NCAA schools, if there were growths and if there was not growth (DO: Hmm) and HBCU schools regarding women in sport. (DO: Okay). Uh, basketball, volleyball tends to be the traditional sports that HBCUs offer and over the years, you know, they have tried to adjust with compliance of Title IX. But, I think the opportunity to really expand, uh, particularly in some nontraditional sport could still be rooms for improvement in that area.

***DO: Okay. Tell me more about your work with the Young Women’s Christian Association’s Office.

AA: My work at the YWCA of the USA made a major impact on the United States Olympic Committee (DO: Okay). When I came to the YWCA, the executive director Dr. Gwendolyn Baker, she said “Alpha, I need something that is like the Girl Scout Cookie for Girl Scouts” and I noticed that they talked about Girls, Inc. but, they did not talk about the YWCA being involved when the Los Angeles Olympic Games were here. When the LA Games finished, they had made so much money, they designated millions of dollars just to be kept for the development of sport in Southern California but, they also distributed monies to different organizations to really develop sports. And Girls, Inc. really didn’t do a lot to do that and actually they ended up losing their name, selling their name for $750,000 to the Boys Club.

AA: So, Boys Club really became the Boys and Girls Club (DO: Hmm). I think the YWCA, we applied for membership and became a member of the United States Olympic Committee. We made an impact of inclusion and the growth of women in sport in the United States. Specifically, if you look at the Peter Westbrook Foundation impact on fencing this past Olympic Games…that all started out of a grant from the USOC through the YWCA of the USA and also Wendy Hilliard Foundation Gymnastic Foundation, the same thing it started out with grants from the USOC through the YWCA of the USA (DO: Okay).
The organization made an impact on the governing body levels and representations on different committees for inclusion of women. And then also through a grant via Nike, we made a major impact on women's basketball and volleyball in the United States. We got about a $3 million grant from Nike with development of women’s basketball and volleyball uh, in this country and were very successful in organizing the players of the WNBA to do clinics and things of that sort.

DO: Umm Hmm
AA: It was interesting the YWCA of the USA made an application to USA Basketball and they had the audacity to send a letter back to the executive director, Dr. Gwendolyn Baker of the YWCA stating that we were the YMCA and they really felt that basketball didn’t need any development in the country because it really didn’t take a lot of money to play basketball. There is a net, a court, and there was plenty of accessibility across the country (DO: Umm Hmm). But at that time there was no specific program directed for the development of girls getting involved in basketball and as you see history has proven, it really has exploded, you know, over the years.
And uh, so my executive director got very mad…first of all, they called us the YMCA (DO: Umm Hmm), which we were the YWCA. And then second of all, we went to an outside corporation, outside of Nike, who was not a sponsor of the United Stated Olympic Committee at that time and Sue Levin was very instrumental in securing this long-term grant to really help development women’s volleyball and basketball in this country (DO: Okay). I hope that helps (laughs).

DO: Yes. It is also just interesting to me as well.

AA: I also wanted to say because of the YWCA of the USA mission, it really…we were instrumental in pushing the USOC to really have inclusion of women. The USOC, they had a rule, which I thought was very unique…that if a sport represented both men and women, they would have athletes, both female and male, that would represent in terms of the athletes, on the United States Olympic Committee. But it involved representation on other various governing bodies as well as in terms of the multi-sport group. There were very little women involved, I was one of the few (DO: Umm Hmm). And definitely one of the few women of color. So, we helped really push to get more women involved on the governing body level as well as different committees and leadership positions within the United States Olympic Committee (DO: Okay).

***DO: Well with that, do you feel that the YWCA has contributed to this “gap” for women of color regarding Title IX?

AA: Well, the gap in terms of women of color…yes, I do. In a sense, because you are talking about on such a very elite level, you know, being an Olympian it is sort of like the ultimate of a lot of athletes…to be able to be an Olympian athlete and if you look at the results of Rio…that just took place, look at the success of gymnastics and look at the success of fencing (DO: Umm Hmm). And I know, some of the roots of that, even, I am very much interested, I remember really pushing that support be given to women’s wrestling (DO: Hmm). Also, looking at women’s boxing (DO: Umm Hmm). I use to chair the United States Olympic Committee member service committee and gave out the money (grant monies) to the national governing bodies as well as to the different organizations involved in…Now, you look at the growth of women participating in boxing and wrestling and, you know, lots of sports across the board

DO: Umm Hmm
AA: I think ultimately it did help (DO: Okay).







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