‘He took a bullet for all of us’

James reflects on MLK, continues vocal opposition to president
BY MARLA RIDENOUR
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL/TNS

LEAH KLAFCZYNSKI/AKRON BEACON JOURNAL/TNS
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James hangs on the hoop after a dunk assisted by Isaiah Thomas against the Golden State Warriors on Monday in Cleveland, Ohio. The Warriors defeated the Cavs 118-108.
INDEPENDENCE, OHIO — LeBron James used Martin Luther King Day Monday to not only again voice his criticism of President Donald Trump, but to express his fear of what the current leadership in Washington is inviting in America.

“The state of racism will never die, but what we cannot do is allow it to conquer us as people,” James said at Cleveland Clinic Courts before the Cavs hosted the Golden State Warriors.

“We can’t allow it to divide us. The guy in control has given people and racism, and negative racism, an opportunity to be out and outspoken without fear. And that’s the fearful thing for us because it’s with you, and it’s around every day, but he’s allowed people to come out and just feel confident about doing negative things.
“We can’t allow that to stop us from continuing to be together and preach the right word of livin’ and lovin’ and laughin’ and things of that nature. Because would we want to live anywhere else? I don’t think so. We love this place.”

On activism
A Baptist minister and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King, 39, was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Asked what the civil rights leader would think of his activism, James said: “Well, I hope I could make him proud or made him proud. Just taking what he was able to give to us and give us that type of empowerment, give us that type of strength to be able to go out and talk about things that really matter. Be able to live for something that’s more than you as an individual. Hopefully I’m making him proud still with him looking down on us.”

Visited Lorraine Motel
James said he has been to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., where King was killed on the balcony by James Earl Ray.

“To be able to be there at that hotel, at that site, where he was assassinated was a very eerie feeling and a very powerful feeling at the same time to be able to … be a part of the movement,” James said.

“You kind of felt that. I’m looking forward to the opportunity where I can take my kids there and they can completely understand what they’re actually witnessing.”

Trump and ‘stupidity’
James continued to criticize Trump, referring to the “stupidity” that Trump has sparked.

James said the statement he and his close friends tried to make at the ESPYs two years ago hasn’t changed.

James wears shoes for Black History Month that bear the date 07-13-2016, the night he took the stage with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade and urged fellow athletes to step up their social activism.

“The best thing that we wanted to do when we went up there was continue the conversation,” James said. “Two years later the conversation is still going.

“Obviously, like I said before, we are in a difficult state right now as Americans as well with the leader of our country. But us, like I said, no matter the religion, no matter the shapes and sizes, we all have to continue to come together and shine a brighter light on, you know, I mean, (I don’t want to) use the word stupidity, but that’s basically what it comes down to.

‘Gave up his life’
James praised the NBA for putting together a showcase slate of 11 games on the holiday that honors King.
“I think it’s unbelievable what the NBA has done, to be able to have this many games, a lot of great games today, on such a great day for a man who stood for more than himself,” James said.

“You always hear people saying, ‘Risking their life.’ He actually gave up his life for the betterment of all of us to be able to live in a free world and for us to be able to have a voice, for us to go out and be free no matter your skin color, no matter who you are, no matter the height and size and the weight or whatever the case may be, wherever you are, he had a vision and he took a bullet for all of us. Literally. In the rawest way that you could say that. He literally took a bullet for us.’’

“And for us to stand here even though we’re trying to be (divided) right now by somebody, today is a great day for people to realize how America was built and how we all have to stand united in order to be at one. Especially as Americans, because … we all know and we all believe this is the greatest country in the world. So special shout out obviously to MLK and everybody who stands with him and obviously his family as well.”

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