Four poised, polished and prominent men have now taken center stage. These faces, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, are synonymous with athletic achievement and are universally known and adored the world over! However, despite this being an award show, the air is not crackling with festivity! Instead, the mood is quite somber and the black suites , donned by the men, are more than just the attire of the evening. Rather, this segment may serve a greater purpose. And sure enough, when Carmelo Anthony finished his speech, we all knew that we may be witnessing one of the most powerful, sociopolitical statements, being made by a group of athletes in quite some time!
What followed Mr. Anthony, was a beautiful array of solidarity as each athlete encouraged and challenged themselves, as well as others, to do more when it comes to our current sate of affairs. But this simply wasn't some message drenched in PC or multicultural drivel. No, the names of countless individuals, whose lives were lost at the hands of authority figures, were sounded off .Thus, indicating that African Americans were at the forefront of racial disparaging and injustice.
Ironically, I was just explaining to one of my associates on why the death of Muhammad Ali had such a profound impact on me.His preceding legacy was unparalleled and unprecedented as it related to a figure who sacrificed, not only his celebrity, but his livelihood for civil justice and equality. And even though his career ended one year before my birth, Ali was not regulated to bar-stool chatter clumped with the rest of the figures of amiable nostalgia.No! Despite failing health, he continued to champion the disfranchised and serve as a voice for the voiceless.I'm pretty sure, that it is not far-fetched to believe that Ali was smiling due to tonight's activities.
So many times I have heard that celebrities owe us nothing when it comes to aiding in curbing societal woes. Individuals have justified the inactivity and indifference of such ones by stating that their job is simply to entertain. But as I mentioned before,whether one chooses to be a role model or not, our unique origins in this country will cause anyone who ascends to a position of celebrity to be viewed as such. And when one realizes the gift that been bestowed upon them and use said status for a greater good, I can only applaud them. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new age of activism. Until then though, bravo brothers! Thank you for showing the world that you indeed care and that we are not poison but we are magic. How else can one explain our will to survive and
PS: Below, you will find the full transcript as well as the recorded segment.
Carmelo Anthony: Good evening. Tonight is a celebration of sports, celebrating our accomplishments and our victories. But in this moment of celebration, we asked to start the show tonight this way: the four of us talking to our fellow athletes with the country watching. Because we cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America. The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust, and anger that plague so many of us. The system is broken. The problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to great change is at an all time high.
Chris Paul: We stand here tonight accepting our role in uniting communities to be the change we need to see. We stand before you as fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, uncles, and in my case, as an African-American man and the nephew of a police officer, who is one of the hundreds of thousands of great officers serving this country. But Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile: this is also our reality. Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and countless others—they set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to follow in their footsteps.
Dwyane Wade: The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando—it has to stop. Enough! Enough is enough. Now, as athletes, it's on us to challenge each other to do even more than what we already do in our own communities. And the conversation cannot—it cannot stop as our schedules get busy again. It won't always be convenient. It won't. It won't always be comfortable. But it is necessary.
LeBron James: We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence. We do. But that's not acceptable. It's time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, "What are we doing to create change?" It's not about being a role model. It's not about our responsibility to a condition of activism. I know tonight, we'll honor Muhammad Ali, the G.O.A.T. To do his legacy any justice, let's use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence, and renounce all violence. And most importantly go back to our communities. Invest our time, our resources. Help rebuild them. Help strengthen them. Help change them. We all have to do better. Thank you