Listen: Harry Edwards, Ucla, Kareem Abdul Jabbar Lew Alcindor discussed on All Things Considered
"UCLA a big air, Dan. How'd you dinner? The center of attraction Liu cinder was born and raised in the Deichmann housing projects. You're the Harlem river in one thousand nine hundred ninety six he left for UCLA. Middle of their problem is Lou bender where he went on to lead the Bruins to three consecutive national titles and an eighty eight and two record and quickly became the country's most dominant college basketball star gender rounded by white shirt. But the times were turbulent at the same time. He was becoming a top notch player. He was developing a social conscience deeply affected by the murder of Emmett till in Mississippi back in one thousand nine hundred eighty five here's Kareem in January two thousand eighteen and I wanted to understand why what did he do why did that happen to you know, just a kid in Mississippi? The thing is relatives. And he ends a bit. You know? So I just had to pay attention to what was going on. I started studying what was happening in the civil rights movement. He was also affected by the killing nine years later of another black boy James Powell in New York City setting off the Harlem riots of nineteen sixty four. So when Harry Edwards pulled together that group of black athletes for the express purpose of deciding whether to boycott, the nineteen sixty eight Olympic Games luau cinder was all for it. He said I have been walk. Down the street in Harlem and seeing police shooting at black people who were running away. And there was no consequence of that. We have to stand up at some point and say, no more Harry Edwards says the young L cinders remarks in Los Angeles made it clear that he was the one athlete in the room who was never going to Mexico City. It was very explicit. And to the point about his reasons for making the statement doing the International Olympic games L cinder received a standing ovation from the two hundred student athletes there, but back at UCLA, the young basketball sensation was also forming a very close relationship with his coach the legendary John wooden. Here's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in seventeen cockapoo from New York City who felt that I would go to UCLA and do very well playing basketball, and that's what it would be all about and coach wooden was able to make me become. I'm aware of so much more wooden a white mid westerner who had served during World War Two expected. His seven foot to center to join the US Olympic basketball team, the younger man respected, his coaches patriotism, but made it clear he wasn't going to Mexico City for me that was an especially sore issue. Dr king just been assassinated. I wasn't feeling very patriotic. Instead of practicing with the Olympic team luau Sinndar spent his summer in Harlem, working with operation sports, rescue teaching kids the importance of education at basketball clinics. I knew that I get criticized you went on the today show. He thought to talk about his work with the kids with sportscaster. Joe Garagiola, you suggested that I leave the country, you know, because I said at times America is not living up to its responsibilities all of its citizens, and he said, well, maybe you should go. Someplace else would followed was a firestorm of criticism, racial epithets and death threats in the end the boycott. Didn't happen. Ultimately, Harry Edwards told the athletes each should find his own method of protest, which is why we have the iconic black loved moment on the Olympic podium after the two hundred meter dash Howard Bryant is the author of the heritage black athletes a divided America. And the politics of patriotism, one of the first things that took place in nineteen sixty eight was this decision of what to do when we talk about tactics. Kareem Abdul Jabbar Lew Alcindor decided not to go to the Olympics. And he he was this. This whole thing was created around a boycott that never took place. Although he made sure that he did boycott even without the number one college player in the country, the US Olympic team took home its seventh consecutive gold medal in basketball from Mexico City still quietly activists the young player went onto an extraordinary career. I with the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Los Angeles Lakers.."