Georgia Representative John Lewis, a civil rights icon who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, passed away on Friday at the age of 80. His death prompted tributes from million, including former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He posted a touching tribute to Lewis and detailed his first time meeting the congressman.
"Rep. John Lewis was a light that will keep on shining bright for humanity throughout eternity," Abdul-Jabbar tweeted on Saturday. He posted two photos, one showing him posing with Lewis in a group that also included Magic Johnson. The other image showed Abdul-Jabbar and Lewis standing side-by-side. The former NBA star explained that meeting Lewis for the first time was very emotional for him.
Abdul-Jabbar did not simply post photos as tributes to Lewis. He also took part in an interview with BBC World News on Sunday. Abdul-Jabbar spoke about Lewis' influence on Civil Rights, as well as in his own personal life. He cited Lewis' concept of 'good trouble' as the reason for him becoming more of an activist.
"You really can feel the sadness in this loss, but we were very fortunate to be able to have walked the earth with people like John Lewis," Abdul-Jabbar said. "So fortunate to be able to have seen his example firsthand and understand what he was talking about. His whole concept of 'good trouble' really is something that has endured and has been an example for Civil Rights activists ever since he first started talking about it."
As Abdul-Jabbar continued to explain, Lewis' impact on his life influenced his decision to speak out about key issues. He specifically mentioned his response to anti-Semitic comments from key figures in Hollywood and the sports world. Abdul-Jabbar wrote a column for The Hollywood Reporter discussing Ice Cube, Chelsea Handler, DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson and their comments about the Jewish people.
In this article, Abdul-Jabbar asked, "where is the outrage" over the anti-Semitic comments. He said that the apathetic responses to comments from the aforementioned celebrities was a "troubling sign" for the Black Lives Matter movement. He also said that this signals the coming "Apatholypse," which he described as apathy to all forms of social justice.
"The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free," Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.' So, let's act like it. If we're going to be outraged by injustice, let's be outraged by injustice against anyone."