BEHIND THE PLATE: Dr. King’s speech resonates 5 decades later |

BEHIND THE PLATE: Dr. King’s speech resonates 5 decades later

Martin Luther King Jr.’s rolling in his grave right now, nearly 51 years since his famous speech in Washington D.C.

Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the march on Washington in front a crowd of a quarter-million supporters, Dr. King proclaimed that people should be treated equal, regardless of the color of their skin.

“I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream — one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed,” Dr. King said in August 1964. “‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream.”

Now, in the 21st century, some people just don’t get it. They still believe they live in a world that’s dominated by the white man. That the color of someone’s skin matters more than what they possess in their hearts.

Even 43 years removed from the Civil Rights Movement, this country still has problems getting along with diversity. And Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling felt it was still relevant to voice his opinion against the African American community in a basketball world that is three-quarters African American.

Some of the greats to ever play in the NBA were not white.

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Julius Erving helped change the game forever and in doing so, they helped create an exciting culture on basketball’s highest stage. But their influence not only changed basketball, but it changed sports and sent a message to the youth that nothing will prevent you from reaching your goals, regardless of your skin color.

What Sterling said in a private conversation last week was inappropriate, denouncing the African American community after he told his ex-girlfriend not to hang out with African Americans after posing for a photo with Johnson. Although his comments were said in private, his stature and prominence in one of the country’s largest cities doesn’t excuses him from complete protection.

He is a figure and the leader of one of the 30 NBA organizations on the rise and showing the City of Angels that it’s not all about Kobe Bryant and the Dodgers. The Clippers are relevant in the NBA and deserve better leadership.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver brought down the hammer as swiftly and powerful as the God of Thunder by banning Sterling for life and forcing the sale of the Clippers. The NBA should not tolerate this kind of behavior, especially after how poorly the NFL handled the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal with Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin and the overuse of the N-word.

The country has changed immensely since Dr. King’s speech in Washington, D.C.

The problem he tried correcting before his death still exists. There will always be racism. There will always be prejudice and stereotypes because of human nature and fear.

But they should not stem from the top of a major sports organization comprised of mostly amazing African American players who continue to surprise NBA fans every night down to the final game of the Finals.

True talent deserves to be seen and a chance to thrive no matter the color of the person’s skin. If you can’t handle the diversity that continues to shape this country, then be ready for the hammer.

Thomas Ranson can be contacted at