NBRPA, Loyola University New Orleans and ELEVATE team up for unique Civil Rights fundraiser

July 1, 2014

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the NBRPA is teaming up with the University Honors Program at Loyola University New Orleans and ELEVATE, an academic, athletic and mentoring program for inner-city teens, to issue a one-of-a-kind limited edition print of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” signed by Dr. King and more than 50 former NBA players. This unique, historic, limited edition print is signed by Dr. King and more than 50 former NBA players.

“The University Honors Program at Loyola New Orleans is proud to partner with NBRPA to improve educational opportunities in the New Orleans community,” Elevate Board member and UHP Director, Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos said. “There is no doubt that the important work of ELEVATE in nurturing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds would be embraced by Martin Luther King, Jr. and it is fitting that his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is being reintroduced to benefit 21st Century inner-city students.”

During the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend and other related events, the NBRPA circulated a 1963 printing of Martin Luther King's “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” for its members to autograph. Written in response to eight white clergymen who had criticized Dr. King’s work as unwise and wrong, this significant letter is an important explanation of civil rights activism. The open letter, written on April 16, 1963, is one of the most celebrated documents in United States history. The letter not only defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, but also argues that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws.

Former NBA All-Star and current NBRPA Board Member Spencer Haywood signed the letter and said he is excited to have his name associated with Dr. King’s for such a noble cause.

“Martin Luther King is one of my heroes, and I am very excited to be a part of this exciting project that will raise funds to improve communities,” Haywood said. “The issues Martin Luther King was addressing back during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s are similar to what is going on today – voting, jobs, equality, better education for our students – and it’s exciting to reissue this historic document as a limited edition print with the signatures of my brothers and sisters from the NBRPA.”

More than 50 former NBA players, including Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Members Rick Barry, Jim Calhoun, Dave Cowens, Alex English, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore and Moses Malone, signed this historic letter. With just 1,000 copies printed, this limited edition print will honor the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment. Proceeds from the 1,000 limited edition print sales will help fund NBRPA grassroots programming designed to positively impact communities and youth through basketball and help fund the Loyola University Honors Program’s tutoring of ELEVATE-enrolled inner-city student athletes.