Law & Disorder

Athlete Activism w/ Blacklisted NBA Player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

A professional athlete, choosing to not participate in the fanfare of the national anthem, on a national sports stage. Is it a familiar story? Can you picture it? In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback with the SF 49ers, built up a now-well-known protest against police killings of Black people by taking a knee while the anthem was playing. His quiet, but visible protest gained traction and spread to more players, more teams, and even into other sports outside of football. If you’re a listener of this show, you’re probably somewhat familiar with that situation, and probably aware that Kaepernick was essentially blacklisted and lost the ability to play football at the professional level – punished for leading a protest.

20 years earlier, a professional basketball player did virtually the same thing. He sat out the national anthem for religious and political reasons, and when a media circus zeroed in on him for it, he too, was suspended and eventually forced out of the league. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a young NBA star playing for the Denver Nuggets, with impressive skills – he’s sometimes compared to an earlier version of Steph Curry. And he’s far from a household name. But with a brand new autobiography called In The Blink Of An Eye, just published under Colin Kaepernick’s publishing imprint, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s story is being memorialized in a much more accessible way.

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In today’s show, we also welcome guest-host journalist and poet Raphael Cohen. In 2016, Raphael published Rebel Elegant, a chapbook and solo performance, blending poetry and biography, basketball history and social commentary, to honor Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s journey.


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