The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the official alumni association comprised of former NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters players, partnered with the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, Jones Walker Law Firm, First NBC Bank, and the National Park Service to take over 150 boys and girls from New Orleans on the 7th annual Civil Rights History tour on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The day-long tour brought the students to Alabama where they visited several historic landmarks and heard from a variety of Civil Rights historians and leaders.
Kids and their parents showed up at the MLB Urban Youth Academy at 6 a.m. eager and ready to embark on a long but exciting and educational day. They received t-shirts, wristbands, and gift bags provided by Jones Walker Law Firm before boarding the bus to Alabama.
Parent Elizabeth Bostick told local New Orleans NBC-TV station WDSU, “What a marvelous opportunity for them to get a chance to go and visit living history.”
During the bus ride, the middle-schoolers watched movies and documentaries on the Civil Rights movement and had the wonderful opportunity to hear from Keith Plessy, President of the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation and Alyssa Arnell, professor at Dillard University.
The buses arrived in Selma, Alabama at noon at the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge - where in 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. led a symbolic march to the bridge demanding fair treatment and voting rights for African Americans. At the bridge, the students sang with the Civil Rights historians from Selma who voluntarily joined in to educate and empower the youth and share their stories.
NBRPA President & CEO Arnie Fielkow told The Montgomery Advertiser, “Kids learn better when there is more interactivity and engagement. Asking questions is another way for them to learn even more.”
During lunch at the McRae Learning Center, the kids had the chance to hear from Civil Rights activist Bernard LaFayette, who played a leading role in organizing the Selma Voting Rights Movement and was a member of the Nashville Student Movement.
In Montgomery, Alabama the kids toured the Biscuits Riverwalk Stadium, home to a minor league baseball team and the area’s first MLB-affiliated team since 1980. Scott Trible, General Manager of Montgomery Biscuits Professional Baseball, led the walk through of the stadium and shared his insight about the history of baseball and its segregation in the South. Before heading back on the bus, kids were able to run around the field and take pictures.
The final tour stop at Alabama State University, a historically black university, allowed Dr. William Smith, Director of Admissions, to lead the group to have dinner at the student dinning center and then toured the campus. Also, Dr. Smith invited a couple from the Civil Rights movement who were over ninety years of age and shared very insightful stories of all the hardships they had to go through. Towards the end, Alabama State University professors encouraged the kids to go to college and Dr. Smith happily informed the seniors on the trip of select scholarship opportunities.
The buses arrived back in New Orleans at 2 a.m., with children filled with enthusiasm and incredible insights, thanks to program sponsors and participants.
“Our law firm was proud to support the National Basketball Retired Players Association’s 7th Civil Rights trip because we believe that the event gives New Orleans youth a unique opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and an incomparable education by visiting these historic civil rights landmarks in Alabama,” said Richard F. Cortizas, partner with Jones Walker LLP.
Photos and media coverage of the NBRPA’s 7th Annual Civil Rights History Tour can be found HERE.
About the National Basketball Retired Players Association
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Arnie D. Fielkow is the President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Thurl Bailey, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Eldridge Recasner, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, James Donaldson, Mike Glenn, Spencer Haywood, LaRue Martin Jr., David Naves, Johnny Newman and Casey Shaw.