by Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
Los Angeles Lakers Basketball Legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar sat down for a live interview with the Black Press of America to discuss the police killings of African Americans and the ensuing protests that have dominated the nation and in many places around the globe.
Jabbar is no stranger to activism. He famously boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics because of racial violence in the United States.
“The idea of going to Mexico (the site of the 1968 Olympics) to have fun seemed so selfish in light of the racial violence that was facing the country,” Jabbar wrote in his best-selling book, “Coach Wooden and Me.”
“The previous summer had seen two major riots, one in Newark (N.J.) that lasted five days, and one in Detroit that lasted eight days. An on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated,” Jabbar wrote.
“White America seemed ready to do anything necessary to stop the progress of civil rights, and I thought that going to Mexico would seem like I was either fleeing the issue or more interested in my career than in justice.”
A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and an accomplished author and award-winning columnist, Jabbar said it greatly pained him to see the murder of George Floyd, the African American man who was brutalized by Minneapolis police late last month.
The videotaped incident showed Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into the neck of the handcuffed and defenseless Floyd while three other officers stood by.
Chavin faces charges that include second-degree murder and the three other officers have been charged with aiding a second-degree murder. Each could receive as many as 40 years in prison if convicted.
“So, what you see when you see Black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for ‘NCIS’ to start,” Jabbar observed.
“What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.”