Before an attentive and emotional crowd inside the Memphis Grizzlies’ practice facility at FedEx-Forum, former University of Tennessee great Bernard King rose from his leather chair to deliver a speech unbounded by time. He stepped to the front of the stage, some 250 spectators staring back, and read the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” It was the most powerful moment in an afternoon full of them, as King and a pair of other former NBA stars conducted a discussion of civil and human rights during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium.
King and fellow ambassadors JoJo White and Dikembe Mutombo, who received the National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award before the start of the Grizzlies’ game, shared personal experiences of injustice and inequality, many of which pointed to the very issues Dr. King fought to erase. And then they looked ahead, imploringour populace in 2014 to continue to pay it forward for future generations.