JANUARY 19, 2011
DETROIT— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, considered by many to be one of the greatest basketball player’s of all time was the 2011 Wayne State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute, keynote speaker. He was introduced by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing a fellow Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. The program was at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. The fund raising luncheon was to benefit Detroit area schools through the Adopt-A-Classroom program.
Last year, Detroit schools realized $10,000 from Wayne State’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute. The event further strengthens WSU’s role as a community bridge for the educational institutions in Detroit. The event also kept Dr. King’s vision of racial harmony front and center. Many Detroit Public School students volunteered yesterday in community service activities as part of the MLK holiday celebration.
Abdul-Jabbar was genuinely thrilled to address at WSU. In measured graceful speech he complimented the WSU mentoring process. “Mentoring is an essential part of the educational process,” he said.
Abdul-Jabbar emphasized to the students in the audience, “My best message to you is that, knowledge is power.” He went on to highlight his student-athlete days at UCLA. “Coach John Wooden expected us to be good students.”
The six time NBA Championship winner had a career of 20 professional seasons. The NCAA has named him one of the top 100 scholar-athletes of the century.
ESPN called him the “Greatest Collegiate Player of the 20th Century” and Time Magazine pronounced him “History’s Greatest Player”.
His New York Times best seller, “On the Shoulders of Giants”, is in final production as a documentary film to be released in theaters nationwide on February, 24, 2011. Abdul-Jabbar’s philanthropic efforts reflect his passion to educate and give back to the sport that gave him so much.
In 2010, he founded the “Skyhook Foundation”, a nonprofit that mentors aspiring youths by combining sports and education programs. “Dr. King had a big impact on me between my sophomore and junior collegiate seasons. I learned to honor those that came before me. I saw what Black-Americans did to strive for basic rights. The rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. What Martin Luther King Jr. did, changed America permanently and for the better,” said Abdul-Jabbar.
Students from the InsideOut Poets did recitations and choral groups from the Detroit High School of Arts and the Detroit Academy of the Arts and Sciences performed.
Basketball talk was front and center after the luncheon and Jennifer Hammond, Detroit Fox-2 sports reporter was amazed with all the classic Wayne State Basketball history discussed. “I wasn’t aware that Coach Joel Mason had such a great pedigree at Wayne State. Kareem really knows his basketball history. It was a Detroit Pistons highlight reel with him talking about Morrie Moorawnick and “The Barber” and “The Brow”. This was great stuff,” she said.