August 20, 2019


For immediate release:

The Ohio Nonviolence Week committee is announcing the recipients of the Simeon Booker Award for Courage: Dr. Harry Edwards and Denise DeBartolo York

  • The national recipient is Dr. Harry Edwards, a well-known sociologist, who is a mentor for athletes with a focus on athletes and social activism. He has been a consultant with the 49ers for decades and is also a consultant with the Golden State Warriors.

For over fifty years, Dr. Harry Edwards, who has a PhD in sociology from Cornell University, has been a counselor for athletes in the area of human rights, social justice and activism in athletics. In 1967, while a professor at San Jose State, he founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). Several demands of the OPHR were the reinstatement of Muhammad Ali’s world heavyweight boxing title and the removal of South Africa and Rhodesia from the Olympic games in protest of apartheid. John Carlos and Tommie Smith, athletes from San Jose State and part of the OPHR, raised their fists in the Black Power salute in protest against racial injustices when they received medals on the Olympic stand in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico; “the most widely recognized protest in sports history”. Carlos and Smith were stripped of their medals and denounced as anti-American. Nearly forty years later, in 2005, San Jose State recognized Carlos and Smith for their actions at the Olympics with a 23-foot statue in their pose in Mexico City.

Edwards suffered from the fall out. He was denied tenure at the University of California. He was profiled by the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover beginning in 1967. Dr. Edwards learned the FBI had more than 3000 pages on him and the OPHR. Edwards was labeled “anti-American, a revolutionary and a danger to the state.”

Today, Edwards is a consultant for the 49ers as well as the Golden State Warriors. His relationship with the 49ers began in the 80’s. He continues to be a mentor for athletes, including Colin Kaepernick, and a voice for social justice.

  • The local recipient is Denise DeBartolo York, who has quietly supported women and minorities both in the Mahoning Valley and the San Francisco area. She learned from her father that education is the key.  She recognizes the 49ers provide a unique platform to bring youth to education and fitness and has taken advantage of that platform. She is a champion for social justice and has the courage to stand up for what she believes in.

The Simeon Booker Award for Courage is given to someone who exhibits the courage and tenacity of Simeon Booker. Mr. Booker grew up in Youngstown, became the first African- American reporter for the Washington Post and then wrote for Jet Magazine. He was responsible for Jet covering the murder of Emmett Till, which shocked the nation and let to the Civil Rights Movement.

The Simeon Booker Award for Courage, which is part of the events during Nonviolence Week (October 6-12, 2019),  is 7:00 PM Thursday, October 10th in the Chestnut Room in Kilcawley at YSU. The program is free and open to the public.

For more information contact Penny Wells, director of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, Chair Ohio Nonviolence Week committee at or 330-207-4467.