Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the most iconic athletes to ever grace the hardwood is using his voice to make waves off the court. The basketball legend, activist, author, actor, and an ambassador is unveiling his speaking series, “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black & White,” which will debut on November 5 in Rochester. The sold-out event will be the first in a series that will highlight activists and speakers having discussions relevant to the Greater Rochester community and the country at large.
In the event, basketball’s all-time leading scorer will dig deep into the issues that are dividing the American public and the possible solutions that are available. The 71-year-old is no stranger to tackling issues of racism, economic inequality, social injustice and the power of the media among other prominent issues. Abdul-Jabbar, a regular contributor to divisive discussions, has written a regular column for Time, appeared on Meet the Press, been an outspoken member of the Muslim and African-American community and was named a cultural ambassador for the United States in 2012.
Despite all his work to shed light on issues and be a voice for advocacy throughout his career, the New York native feels that his work isn’t done. “I feel that all Americans must engage in this conversation because it is a national conversation that will affect how we live like Americans,” Abdul-Jabbar tells Unfiltered Access. “We have to get to know our fellow citizens and make plans that work for all of us.”
As someone who won three consecutive national college basketball titles at UCLA, and six National Basketball Association titles with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, holds the all-time scoring record and was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, it is hard for his accolades to go unnoticed.
Even off the court, he has remained in the public eye, as he made appearances in several television shows and movies while maintaining his role as an activist. It is easy to understand why the man who received the presidential medal of freedom would have his words carry such great weight, even if he doesn’t.
“I’m not really concerned with the quantity of influence I may or may not have on people. I’m glad to know that some of the things I’ve written have helped others understand what’s going on. That is meaningful to me,” Abdul-Jabbar explained.
At his speaking series, the former Laker will speak about what is described as a roadmap for positive action and a path towards change for all that will listen. Abdul-Jabbar tells Unfiltered Access that just like the athletes today who are speaking their mind to fight for what they believe is right, he was simply following those before him that paved the way for his outspoken mentality.
“I thought that I would try to follow in the footsteps of my heroes, Jackie Robinson being the most prominent. But, people like Louis Armstrong made their voices heard, surprising many people,” Abdul-Jabbar said when asked why he felt the need to speak out in a time when it was not common, especially by an African-American athlete. “It was great to see the vast variety of Black Americans take up the challenge. I felt that I could not be silent when so many others around me were risking everything to support the cause.”
The 7-foot-2 Abdul-Jabbar may tower over others physically, but it is his actions that have made him a giant. Abdul-Jabbar has led the way for those that have come after him, including the likes of athletes such as LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and others who have taken up the mantle of athlete and activist.
The event will take place at the Louis Alexander Palestra in the Goergen Athletic Center. The 7 p.m. talk is free and open to the general public.
For more information on the event click here.
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