The Colgate Scene
March 2006

NBA great gives Colgate students lesson in black history

[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

In February, basketball legend and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar signed copies of his book Black Profiles in Courage and spoke at Memorial Chapel.

The Brothers, a multicultural men's group at Colgate, invited Abdul-Jabbar to campus during Black History Month. Rodney Mason '06, a member of the group, said Abdul-Jabbar was chosen because it was important to give the campus community a chance to hear him talk about the African Americans whose important roles in U.S. history have been largely ignored or marginalized.

"We wanted to share the stories of these black heroes with the entire campus," said Mason.

Jon Lopez '06 said it also was important for the Brothers to show that athletes of color are not one-dimensional -- that they can contribute on campus and in the world in a variety of ways.

In addition to being the leading scorer in NBA history and a member of six championship teams, Abdul-Jabbar is a best-selling author, actor, entrepreneur, and film producer. He also formed a program for high school athletes that focuses on the importance of higher education and good grades, and has worked extensively with literacy groups, global poverty organizations, and other charities.

In his chapel talk, Abdul-Jabbar noted the influence that Martin Luther King Jr. and his basketball coach at UCLA, the legendary John Wooden, had on him. He said students in the audience could lead the way in improving how black history is taught at schools.

"It's important that everyone understand the contributions and sacrifices black Americans made to make America a better place," he said.

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