Jesse Jackson Wishes ‘MLK Had Gotten to Meet LeBron James’

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers bought a house in Los Angeles in 2015 for just under $21 million
© GETTY/AFP/File Gregory Shamus

The sports media’s attempt to turn LeBron James into a civil rights icon has been well documented. But, now the civil rights icons have gotten into the act as well.

LeBron addressed the media on Wednesday, in the aftermath of the incident at his home where someone spray-painted racial graffiti on his gate, saying that if the incident can “keep the conversation (on racism) going, to keep progressing, not regressing, I’m not against it happening.”

That comment, and others, brought a response from Reverend Jesse Jackson, who thinks LeBron has handled the situation with “sensitivity” and “responsibility.”

According to USA Today Sports:

LeBron is in a rare zone of being a high-profile super athlete and a (civil) servant leader. He has an acute sensitivity to shining a light in dark places. He embraces that responsibility despite the risk. Athletes with greatness, who show authentic manhood, assume that risk. Muhammad Ali assumed that risk — for social justice. Now LeBron is, too.

His genius goes far beyond the court. I just wish Dr. (Martin Luther) King had gotten to meet (James) and see the kind of man he is. He is at the level of Jackie Robinson and Curt Flood with the way he handled this.

Jackson also referenced LeBron’s comments on Wednesday about Emmett Till. James had said, “being black in America is tough.” He mentioned Till’s mother holding an open casket, in order to show the world the cruelty of a hate crime.

Jackson said, “He was not reading from a script that PR agents prepared for him. He knows that the Civil Rights Movement made his opportunity possible. (African-Americans) have been playing basketball for a long time, but we couldn’t always play (in college) or professionally. LeBron’s using his blessings to make America and the world a better place. His legacy stretches far beyond the (basket) ball court.”

After lauding LeBron’s past activism with the Trayvon Martin incident, offering to lead a boycott against former Clippers owner Donald Sterling who was caught on tape making racist remarks, in addition to James’ support of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones after he was allegedly racially heckled in Boston, Jackson spoke of James as being more than just an athlete, saying, “LeBron is willing to extend the conversation. He knows that you can have people cheering for you, but when you put on your street clothes, you might not get the respect you deserve.”

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn

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