St. Olaf College | News

Former NFL player to lecture on ‘Masculinity in the Locker Room’

Former NFL player Wade Davis will visit St. Olaf College March 9 to deliver this year’s James Reeb Memorial Lecture, titled Masculinity in the Locker Room.

The lecture, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Lion’s Pause in Buntrock Commons, is free and open to the public. It will also be streamed and archived online.

Davis — who played for the Tennessee Titans, the Washington Redskins, and the Seattle Seahawks, as well as for two different teams within the NFL Europe league — is now a writer, public speaker, and educator on gender, race, and orientation equality.

In 2014 he became the NFL’s first Diversity and Inclusion consultant, where he leads training sessions and national engagement initiatives such as the Hi-Five project, which works to further create safe space in sports for LGBT athletes. Davis is also the executive director of the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination, sexism, and homophobia in sports.

He is currently at work on a book that focuses on how masculinity, gender, sexual orientation, and more all collide within the NFL.

As an educator, Davis was an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business, and served as an adjunct professor at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration. Davis has lectured on the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, and sports at universities nationally and internationally, and is the former assistant director of academic enrichment and work-readiness for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, where he taught at-promise LGBT youth how to define success.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Davis graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 2014 Davis received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Northeastern University for his leadership and ongoing efforts to eradicate homophobia and sexism in athletics.

About the Reeb Memorial Lecture
The James J. Reeb Memorial Lecture series brings nationally and internationally renowned speakers to campus each year whose life, work, and dedication to the cause of social justice and human rights are an inspiring example for the St. Olaf community.

The endowment to support the lecture series was established by Paul Jeffrey Parks in memory of his companion, Stephen Henry Oertel, who died of AIDS in 1989. Parks hopes that this annual series contributes to ongoing conversations about social justice and serves to remember Oertel and his commitment to these issues.

The lecture series is named in honor of St. Olaf alumnus James Reeb ’50, who in 1965 answered Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for clergy to march with him in Selma, Alabama. Shortly after arriving in Selma, Reeb and two other clergy members were attacked by white supremacists as they were leaving a diner. Reeb died from his injuries two days later. His death inspired a wave of nationwide protests and served as a catalyst for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.