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Isiah Thomas And Others Will Discuss Race And Violence In Chicago

By Gwendolyn Purdom in News on Aug 22, 2016 8:14PM

An impressive line-up of current and former pro-athletes, community activists, sports executives, journalists and historians will gather in Woodlawn and lend their voices Thursday to a timely national conversation on sports, race and violence.

Presented by ESPN, the event, "An Undefeated Conversation: Athletes, Responsibility, and Violence" will explore topics from racial profiling and the police to activism in sports to gun violence, according to the sports network and its new culture and race-focused vertical The Undefeated. The 90-minute program, which will be taped Thursday afternoon at the South Side YMCA of Metro Chicago in Woodlawn, will air at 8:30 that night.

Confirmed panelists include Basketball Hall-of-Famer and Chicago-native Isiah Thomas, "Sports Nation" co-host and former NFL player Marcellus Wiley, Bulls' point guard Rajon Rondo, Chicago Baptist pastor Jolinda Wade (yes, new Bull Dwyane's mom), White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams, ESPN commentator and Chicago native Michael Wilbon, University of Illinois at Chicago history professor Elizabeth Todd-Breland, and Chicago mother Stephanie Brown, who lost her son to gun violence.

Though the program is national in scope, setting it in Chicago's violence-riddled South Side was intentional. Current and former Chicago athletes like Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade have made headlines in speaking out against gun violence like the kind that has killed more than 2,000 people in the city so far this year and against high-profile racially-charged incidents between police and black Americans in recent months. On Friday, a second conversation focused on Chicago violence specifically will air live from the South Side YMCA as a special episode of ESPN 2's "First Take." Guests on Friday's program will include Chance the Rapper, Isiah Thomas and author Michael Eric Dyson.

In a statement on the events, ESPN V.P. and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated Kevin Merida said:

"Sports are great bridge builders in our country, bringing together people who think differently and live differently. Athletes, in greater numbers, have been saying they want to use their influence to drive social change. We hope this townhall will help push that conversation forward."

Thursday's conversations will revolve around four topics: Racial Profiling, Athletes and Police; Sports and Activism; Guns and Violence; and A Call To Action about how athletes can use their influence for social good. Invited guests from the community will also be able to participate.