STORY BY: BLAKE SUTHERLAND STAFF WRITER
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used his experience fighting for the rights of minorities as the basis of a seminar that he gave to students, faculty, and guests on Monday, April 3.
Inspired by the brutal death of Emmett Till which would spark the civil rights movement that the NBA’s all-time leading scorer would participate in, Abdul-Jabbar responded to the difference in the lives of African-Americans from then to now.
“Since the time of civil rights era, black Americans have seen a lot of rules and the ways people deal with it,”Abdul-Jabbar said, “but there is still a lot of things that need to be done and that is very obvious from when you see some of the things that happen.”
Miami University hosted the NBA legend in a lecture titled “Beyond Black and White” as part of the school lecture series. In the lecture, moderated by former Miami University professor and current senior director emeritus of Diversity Affairs Gerald Yearwood.
Yearwood and Abdul-Jabbar focused on the topics of race, religion, education, politics and more while focusing on more issues in the forefront today such as Colin Kaepernick stance to kneel during the national anthem and current policy put forward by President Donald Trump.
When speaking on Kaepernick’s controversial decision that took place this past NFL season, Abdul-Jabbar spoke his initial displeasure with the way the quarterback started his protest but quickly shifted to his satisfaction with Kaepernick’s decision to kneel, focusing how important the conversation of race relations are.
“I think the conversation has to take place in the forefront,” said the seven-foot-two former NBA player. “It’s always being discussed but we absolutely have to put it in the forefront.”
Abdul-Jabbar also focused on the other athletes with whom he was active in the civil rights movement in such as Bill Russell, Jim Brown and the late Muhammed Ali. Abdul-Jabbar also focused on his and Ali’s backgrounds as Muslim’s and preached equality while speaking on the idea of Islamophobia.
“Islam does not teach us to murder and kill,” speaking in the light of recent terrorist attacks committed under followers of the same religion Abdul-Jabbar converted to in 1971.
Later on speaking to give people motivation and to once again preach equality Abdul-Jabbar spoke saying, “Even if you are different you can contribute no matter how different you are. So do the best you can to make America a better place, as well as you can and you will be accepted.”
Abdul-Jabbar finished ended the seminar with a Q&A session with the audience where he was asked a range of questions from finding inclusiveness as a minority at a predominantly white institution to in his prime who would win one-on-one, Abdul-Jabbar or Shaq. The night ended with a book signing in another Miami University building.
Miami University in Oxford, Ohio Monday April, 3 Hall Auditorium
STORY EDITED BY SPORTS EDITOR CHRIS POUNDS
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