In the recent issue of Sports Illustrated, the cover is the Sportsperson of the Year (LeBron James). The article is not just about his acconplishments on the court, but his activism off the court. Recently, at the ESPY awards, he, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony stood on the stage and pledged to speak up on issues of race in America. LeBron seems to be following through, helping his hometown of Akron, Ohio by putting his money where his mouth is.
Wade furthered his “Spotlight On …” initiative that his foundation has made a staple of home games, surprising 100 teenagers at an after school program and encouraging them to work to remedy the city’s violence with positive examples of success. (From the Chicago Tribune)
Also: Working with the Bulls’ community services department, they went into a home of an underprivileged family and fully refurnished it and left gifts. (From the Chicago Tribune)
The magazine goes on to tell the story of the meeting that took place on June 4, 1967 on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, where some of the top athletes in America, including Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar and 10 other athletes and politicians met with Muhammad Ali to find out the truth about his refusal to enter the Army. 50 years later, that meeting still resonates with me, as the people in the room, many of them military veterans, stood behind Ali and supported his right of free speech and freedom of religion. A very moving article!
The magazine goes on to profile Doug Baldwin, a Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, who backed Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the Star Spangled Banner by locking arms with a fellow teammate. Baldwin is still working for the cause, going to 3 or 4 meetings a week with police and city officials (sometimes with Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seahawks) to discuss issues of race.
Finally, the article quotes Harry Edwards, the most prominent sociologist in sports, who was the architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which resulted in the Black Power salute on the victory podium by John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics.
Edward’s said in this article: “Follow through is the difference between a movement and a mob.”
I commend these athletes for following through on their words!!