Activist Jim Keady to address sweatshops and social justice in VC Lyceum talk

Jim Keady

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, Feb 24 at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Keady has spoken across the United States and at international venues to thousands of interested audience members. He has been sought out by members of the U.S. Congress, as well as various university administrators, religious and union leaders, and student groups to offer his personal and professional experience and critiques on the issues of sweatshops, globalization and social justice.

In 1997, Keady was a soccer coach with the St. John’s University Red Storm, the NCAA Division One National Champions, when he stood up against Nike and their sweatshops and lost his job for doing so.

“I was given an ultimatum,” Keady recounted. “Wear Nike and drop this issue, or resign.”

Keady resigned as a matter of principle and has since made ending sweatshop labor his life mission.

In the summer of 2000, he lived with factory workers in an Indonesian slum, trying to survive on their wage of 23 cents an hour. He documented what the workers’ lives were really like.

"I lived in a 9x9 box, sleeping on a reed mat on a cement floor for 30 days,” said Keady, “I lost 25 pounds trying to live like a Nike factory worker.”

Since that initial trip, Keady has returned to Indonesia multiple times, most recently in June 2010, to learn more about Nike’s overseas operations and to help workers that are struggling for fair conditions and living wages.

Keady has recently founded, TEAM SWEAT, a coalition of consumers, investors and workers that is fighting for justice in Nike’s sweatshops.

“Mr. Keady will share his experiences about speaking truth to power, a difficult load to bear and, sometimes, a difficult thing to hear,” said Lisa DeVries, Victoria College associate English professor and chair of the Lyceum Committee. “An evening with him should prove enlightening.”

The final speaker of the 2014-15 Lyceum series will be Mack Dryden, a cancer survivor, creative writer, comedian and motivator. He will share his story at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14 in the Welder Center.

The Welder Center is located at 214 N. Main Street in downtown Victoria.

For more information about VC’s 2014-15 Lyceum Lecture Series, visit

Published: Thursday, 19 February 2015

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