Hear Upstander Michael Sam Speak March 26

Missouri vs Arkansas State - September 28, 2013 (Photo by Ben Walton)Whether you follow people who tear across the football field or tear up the dance floor, no doubt Michael Sam has been on your social media feed lately. Now you have a chance to hear what the multi-talented football player is up to in person.

Sam, the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL, will speak on March 26 as part of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance’s 2015 Upstander Speaker Series. The series brings leading human rights advocates and academics to Dallas to share their knowledge and research on a spectrum of issues, including modern-day genocide, ethics, prejudice and law.

Sam set the Internet spinning when he announced recently that he’ll be a contestant on Season 20 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. He’s stressed, though, that he’ll continue training so he can show off his moves on the football field if a team comes calling for the 2015 NFL season.

Sam has a lot going on, but he’ll stand still long enough on March 26 to speak to the North Texas community about his past whirlwind year and his decision to come out despite repercussions it may have on his career in the uber-macho world of professional sports.

Sam’s a natural for the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s second Upstander Speaker Series, which raises fundamental questions about humanity, justice and personal responsibility. It challenges audiences to consider these issues and stand up against injustice rather than stand by.

Upstander Speakers Series (2)Sam grew up in Hitchcock, Tex. along the Gulf Coast. He is the seventh of eight children. Three of his siblings have died and two brothers are in prison. He is the first of his family to graduate from college.

Sam, now 25, was selected by the St. Louis Rams in last year’s draft but was released before the start of the season. He was signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad but did not make it to the game-day roster.

The nation has followed Sam’s progress in the NFL closely.

“The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey,” President Barack Obama said in a White House statement. “From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”

Sam has been accepted to the first NFL veteran combine, a project aimed at giving a second chance to players who are free agents. That combine is set for March 22.

The Upstander Speaker Series with Michael Sam and introduction by WFAA-TV sports anchor Dale Hansen will take place March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane in Dallas. For more information and tickets, visit DallasHolocaustMuseum.org.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

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