NBA Legend Bill Russell: America Not the ‘Land of the Free’ When Blacks Are ‘Hunted Down’

Bill Russell
Getty Images/Rich Fury

In a recent editorial, former NBA champion Bill Russell insisted that America is just as racist and oppressive for blacks today as it was back in the Jim Crow era.

In a screed posted on Monday to The Players Tribune blog, the former Boston Celtics player excoriated the “racist” United States and said President Donald Trump was no different from the notoriously racist 1960’s era Governor of Georgia, Lester Maddox.

Russell played for the Celtics from 1956 to 1969 and then became the league’s first black head coach in 1966. He went on to coach for the Celtics, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Sacramento Kings.

But despite his great success — even during the Jim Crow era — Russell claimed the U.S. has not changed at all since its worst oppressive days of his youth.

“In 2020, Black and Brown people are still fighting for justice, racists still hold the highest offices in the land, and kids today still grow up with cultural norms that aren’t different enough from the ones that Lester Maddox grew up with,” Russell railed.

The 86-year-old former player next turned his pen against the police, saying that “black kids today don’t grow up worried the Klan will kill them in the middle of the night — they worry the police will.”

Russell also praised the current social justice movement by agreeing that America needs a “reckoning.”

The civil rights activist said that “racial terror” can be made to “disappear with national reckoning, with an examination of our cultural norms and our power structures, with the dismantling and rebuilding of our institutions, and by ending voter suppression so that everyone can vote for change from the bottom to the top of the ballot. ”

Russell then went on the attack against President Trump and claimed that Trump is exactly like the racist ex-gov, Lester Maddox, saying, “Despite being separated by 53 years, the only substantial difference between the two men’s statements is their accents.”

The former NBA star next plied the typical left-wing calumny that the US. is built on “racist” ideals. America, Russell claimed, “was founded on indigenous genocide and built on slavery. As a result of this discordant origin, America is a country at odds with its past.”

Freedom only applies to white people in the American system, Russell insisted. “America is not the land of the free when Black people have to worry about being hunted down,” he said, citing the deaths of blacks such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and others as proof.

Russell also claimed that there is “no way” to “move past” America’s racism and its past with slavery.

“[T]here is no way to move past racism. Fifty-three years won’t do it, and 153 years won’t do it. It’s like apologizing for something without knowing what you’re apologizing for — no real understanding comes of it. If America doesn’t reckon with the past, divisions will only worsen,” he wrote.

He closed his attack on America by claiming that blacks cannot get justice: “America is not the land of the free when Black people’s murderers always go free.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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