RPCV Charles Kastner (Seychelles) at New York RunCenter


Join author Charles B. Kastner to discuss the history of African-American runners through the lens of his new book, Race Across America.

About this Event

Charles Kastner

Join author Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles 1980-82) to discuss the history of African-American runners through the lens of Charles’ new book, Race Across America: Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies. A book selling and signing will be held after the discussion.

About Race Across America: Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies

Anyone who roots for the underdog — the guy trying to do something in spite of impossible odds — should read Race Across America. It shows that human limitations are there to be broken and speaks to the untapped potential for human achievement that rests within each of us. It also puts a spotlight on the heroism of one of Seattle’s greatest endurance athletes, Eddie “the Sheik” Gardner.

In the late 1920s, Gardner competed in two epic footraces that crisscrossed the United States. The press nicknamed these races “bunion derbies.” As an African American, Gardner risked his life on a daily bases when Route 66 took him across three Jim Crow states in the first-of-its-kind integrated footrace. This book documents his struggle to assert his right to compete as an elite athlete in the new sport of trans-America racing, the price he had to pay to do so, and the example of courage he set for his fellow African Americans.

Two other African Americans raced with him: the war veteran and boxer, “Smiling” Sammy Robinson from Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the fifteen year-old California school boy, Tobie Joseph Cotton, Jr. Tobie was only 15 years old and a high school freshman when he entered the derby in an improbable attempt to save his struggling family from poverty. He is still the youngest person to ever run across America. Along the way, icons of the last century such as Booker T. Washington, Red Grange, Will Rogers, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson intersected with Eddie’s story.

Date And Time

Thu, February 13, 2020

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM EST

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