This Wednesday and Thursday, Penn State will be hosting its annual Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers where award-winning writers give a free public lecture to Penn State students and faculty. Kevin Merida, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” will be speaking at 7pm in the Schwab Auditorium.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the most important voices in the sports world talk about the interconnection of race, sports, and culture. Merida, who joined ESPN in 2015, spent his previous 22 years working at the Washington Post, where he became the newspaper’s first African-American managing editor. He worked as a reporter, columnist, associate editor, and national editor during his time working for the post, and he led the charge of transitioning the Post to the digital age, which increased audience growth tremendously.
Merida won a Peabody award in 2006 for directing his “Being a Black Man” multimedia project. It used in-depth reporting to describe the lives of Black men, emphasizing the shared uniqueness of their experiences. Not only did “Being a Black Man” have 15 articles featured on the Post, but it also had video documentaries, online discussion areas, and narrated photo galleries. It is truly multimedia gold. In 2007, Merida turned his articles into the fantastic book “Being a Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril.” He is also co-author of a Justice Clarence Thomas biography and a photography-and-text record of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2012, the Huffington Post named Merida and his wife Donna Britt, a widely acclaimed Washington Post writer, one of the “Black Voices Power Couples of the year.”
Merida is no stranger to politics as he has covered all branches of the government throughout his career. This is what makes The Undefeated so interesting. ESPN, known as the worldwide leader in sports, now has Merida leading the cultural charge with his political background. With SportsCenter covering the highlights, Merida covers the deeper areas in sports, the areas that many are uncomfortable discussing, adding extremely valuable insight on the socio-economic and political world of sports. Many people do not believe that there is room for politics in sports, and Kevin Merida would beg to differ.
Watch him in the Schwab Auditorium on Wednesday, October 19th at 7:00pm.