With an all-star panel on CSN featuring author Michael Eric Dyson, FanHouse columnist Kevin Blackistone and former football player Bobby Mitchell—who desegregated the Washington Redskins 50 years ago—The Nation‘s Dave Zirin leads a discussion to answer the question, “Why is the history of sports and the African American experience so deeply intertwined?”

For Dyson, the reason African Americans have been prominent in sports over the past century stretches back to the days of slavery, when physical qualities, including strength and speed, were valued based on the labor needs of the Southern Agrarian capitalist society. “The physical dimensions of blackness were always focused on, and so as a result of that we invested in a very profound way our physical expressions as the poetry of our spirits.”

But as Black athletes stood up to intolerance with discipline and intelligence, they became ambassadors for Black excellence, he says.

This video is the first in a series of four. Check back tomorrow for the second clip.

Sara Jerving