When Colin Kaepernick and other athletes started silently protesting police brutality of black and brown peoples, the vitriol they received was relentless. Basketball players were told to shut up and dribble. Sports fans erroneously believe that millionaire athletes are unaffected by the racism that everyday people of color receive. LeBron James, one of the most recognizable, beloved athletes in the world experienced racism when his Los Angeles home was painted with “nigger” in May of 2017. Never one to shy away from difficult conversations, when interviewed about this incident, King James said,
“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are,
no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough.”
Because LeBron knows how tough it is being black in America from his own experiences especially those of his youth, LeBron opened a school, I Promise, in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. I Promise School will provide many services at no cost to students including tuition, uniforms, bicycle and helmet, breakfast, lunch and snacks. Families are also supported with access to a food pantry, GED access and job placement services for parents. In 2015, LeBron announced scholarships to attend the University of Akron for those graduating from the I Promise School. This could benefit more than 2300 students.
Thank God, LeBron does not just shut up and dribble. With these programs and his willingness to speak truth to power, LeBron continues to show us that he has not forgotten where he comes from. Instead, he is using those experiences to contribute to the change he wants to see. I believe that change is a more inclusive society for all.
LeBron is an avid reader, often reading before games. Thus, making it cool for kids to be nerdy. Earlier this year, the American Library Association (ALA) dropped Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a children’s literary award “to reconcile the award with the organization’s values of ‘inclusiveness, integrity and respect’….” As ALA seeks to establish itself as a more inclusive organization, why not have someone who shares that inclusive vision be the next keynote speaker at the annual conference. LeBron James, the kid from Akron, is by far the best choice.