Friday, June 01, 2012

French star Thuram working to battle racism in soccer and society

Five years ago, to illustrate the development of mankind, scientists at the Musée de L'Homme in Paris chose three human skulls: the fossil of a generic Cro-Magnon; the cranium of philosopher René Descartes; and a facsimile of the strikingly active and wide-ranging brain of Lilian Thuram, the Guadeloupe-born defender and longtime captain of the French national soccer team. Thuram helped lead France to its first World Cup title in 1998 and the European championship two years later. If it's possible to become even more prominent after exploits of that scale, Thuram has tried his best to do so since stepping down from les bleus in 2008 as the most-capped player in French history. Now 40, Thuram is an activist, educator, public intellectual and philosopher. He serves on France's Council on Social Integration. His Fondation Lilian Thuram has developed a curriculum for anti-racist education. His '10 book, Mes Etoiles Noires: De Lucy a Barack Obama (My Black Stars: From Lucy to Barack Obama) is part of his larger effort to bring the stories of black role models to francophone readers. Most recently he curated an award-winning exhibition at the Musee du Quai Branly, the ethnographic museum in Paris, called Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage, which runs through June 3.

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