On the heels of Black History Month and in the depths of COVID-19, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has partnered with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to dedicate more than $3 million in funds and resources to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
As the official kickoff to their commitment, Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta will celebrate HBCU traditions and culture by sharing their stories with the league’s global audience throughout the televised game.
“Everything’s about exposure,” said Mo Williams, who played 13 NBA seasons and is now a first-year coach at HBCU, Alabama State University.
“Being that the All-Star Game is putting an emphasis on HBCUs, it gives us exposure, and it helps in a lot of different areas, a lot of different ways, [at] a lot of different schools.”
Once a traditionally weekend-long event – due to COVID-19 and the CDC’s recommended safety measures – no attendees will be allowed inside and the professional basketball league will now host a virtual one-night, six-hour event for the first time ever at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
However, the timing and location of Atlanta as the home to four HBCUs – Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine – comes as no coincidence as also the birthplace to civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“It was part of the reason why we’re here in Atlanta, this was an opportunity to focus on the HBCUs.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
This bold statement comes at a pivotal time within the black community as racial injustices and historical black movements make national news and headlines worldwide with Kamala Harris — a graduate of Howard — becoming not only the first black woman to be elected vice president but the first HBCU graduate in the White House.