I am a newspaper sports reporter and a columnist. The odds of that being possible would be 100 percent more difficult without the sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With all due respect there were hundreds, no thousands of people that made the decision to change their lives in order to join the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King however is my idol, so I’ll just focus on him for the sake of this column.
I’m writing this on Monday, January 18, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a nationally recognized holiday. The idea of that being a possibility is even greater than the of me, a son of two people from Winterville, North Carolina, talking to you through a newspaper in Alabama. Dr. King, to me, made that possible.
Later in the day I watched on television a number of basketball games, held in his honor, and the sports reporter in me was quite proud. Memphis, where he died, and Atlanta, where he was born and thrived as a scholar and preacher, both have NBA teams hosting games. In these days of less books and more internet-based learning and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, it’s great to have Dr. King’s message sandwiched in between sports that millions of kids home from school will watch. Maybe some of the message, love over hate, using non-violence to solve problems, will sink into those young minds while they are watching the dunks and crossovers.
Millions of times per day videos of dunks and dribble-drives and Steph Curry crossover moves are being passed around the internet via social media. I’m hoping that a few of those videos will be of Dr. King, of his many speeches and sermons. In 2016 it’s pretty easy to get your name on the tongue of any and everyone with a pulse by being a ball player, musician or movie star. Dr. King, winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, was an honest to goodness star. Someone that earned his so-called stripes by uplifting his people and people the world over.
Here’s to hoping that Dr. King and the many thousands of people then and now that speak truth to power and fight for peace get the same amount of attention that the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans game will. One can only hope it will.