Acclaimed Speaker Jim Keady to Bring “Behind the Swoosh” to Rockhurst UniversityMarch 28, 2012

Jim Keady, a nationally renowned educator and speaker in the area of social justice, will present “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, in Rockhurst University’s Convocation Center. 

Keady, who has spoken to thousands of people throughout the world on the issues of sweatshops, globalization and social justice, will discuss how he was able to help sweatshop workers struggling for fair wages and better living conditions.

Formerly a soccer coach for St. John’s University, Keady stood up against the school’s Nike partnership due to its known use of sweatshops.

“I was given an ultimatum,” said Keady. “Wear Nike and drop this issue, or resign.” Keady resigned as a matter of principle and has since made ending sweatshop labor his life’s mission.

“Keady doesn’t just watch and discuss the issue from afar, he has actually lived as a factory worker in an Indonesian slum,” said John Meyer, director of Rockhurst’s Helzberg School of Management Center for Leadership and Ethics which has organized the event as part of its 2011-12 guest speaker series.

In 2000, Keady tried to survive earning a sweatshop worker’s wage of 23 cents per hour. He documented his experience and will share it as part of his presentation.

“I lived in a 9-by-9 box, sleeping on a reed mat on a cement floor for 30 days,” said Keady. “I lost 25 pounds trying to live like a factory worker.”

Since that initial trip, Keady has returned to Indonesia multiple times, most recently in June 2010. He has appeared on programs such as ESPN’s “Sports Center,” HBO Sports, NPR, and BBC News, as well as in The New York Times, Newsday and Sports Illustrated to share his experiences and raise awareness of this cause.

“Keady’s presentation has already created a buzz on campus,” said Meyer. “From students to business professionals, Keady’s story and journey to find truth appeals to all kinds of audiences.”

“This is an extremely relevant topic, specifically to Rockhurst athletes,” said Katie McCune, president of the Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) and member of the RU softball team. “We wear our uniforms proudly and want to represent all that the Jesuit name stands for.”

The free presentation is sponsored by Rockhurst’s office of advancement and alumni relations, campus ministry department, VOICES for Justice and the SAAC.

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