Hall-of-fame basketball player and social activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be giving a talk at Rollins College

Audy Contreras

On Wednesday, April 4, Rollins College will welcome a man who is larger than life in more ways than one.

At 7-foot-2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is quite literally a towering figure, whose skyhook and style made him one of the greatest players in the history of both college basketball and the NBA.

But on Wednesday, April 4, Abdul-Jabbar will do more than just talk basketball. He also will discuss his role as a social activist and writer in “Writings on the Wall: An Evening with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” at Warden Arena.

Organized by the Winter Park Institute as a part of its Rollins College Speaker Series, Abdul-Jabbar will discuss his own personal stories and also examine the current political and racial topics that America faces today, said Gail Sinclair, executive director and scholar in residence at the WPI.

“We engaged Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, because he is so diverse in his interests — he’s obviously a basketball icon, but he is very articulate and out-spoken,” Sinclair said. “He does a lot of op-eds — New York Times — he has written 14 books on wide and varied subjects, and he is interested in STEM education … particularly in underserved communities.

“We found him to represent the liberal arts ethos — the fact that he is not just a basketball player,” she said. “He is much broader than that.”

Abdul-Jabbar will conclude this year’s series, which is the 10th for the WPI. Some of the notable names from this last season includes Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jon Meacham, world-renowned artist Candy Chang and former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

For those who don’t know, the WPI at Rollins College started in 2007 to bring scholars to the school to engage in intellectual discussion, Sinclair said.

The series has attracted some big names across realms of the arts, sciences, social activism and so forth — that diversity is a large reason why Abdul-Jabbar was chosen to cap off the 10th season.

Born Lew Alcindor, Abdul-Jabbar started his journey to becoming one of the greatest basketball players to walk the Earth when he played under legendary UCLA coach John Wooden — there, he would win three NCAA titles and three National Player of the Year trophies before being drafted No.1 by the Milwaukee Bucks.

In his 20-year career with the Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, Abdul-Jabbar won six NBA titles and became the only player to ever rack up six NBA Most Valuable Player awards. Abdul-Jabbar also still holds the NBA scoring record to this day.

Abdul-Jabbar’s philosophy in basketball and life are two of the subjects that Rollins men’s basketball coach Tom Klusman is looking forward to during his team’s private meeting with the hall-of-famer that will take place before the night’s talk.

“I would just like him to talk about how this is a short time in their life — their experience in basketball and how they need to make the most of it,” Klusman said. “Things that I try to tell them … it’s always great to have someone who has had the success that he has reinforce things, but I’m just as excited just to listen to what he is going say, and just take it from there to see how it will help me, as well as the team.”

But Abdul-Jabbar has become more than just a basketball icon — he has also become renowned for his work in social activism and writing. In books such as “Writings on the Wall — Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White” and the numerous pieces he has written for the Washington Post and Time magazine, Abdul-Jabbar has examined the issues of racism and political unrest in the United States.

His work has gained him the respect of many throughout the country, including former President Barack Obama, who awarded Abdul-Jabbar with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor. He was also appointed to the President’s Council on Sports & Fitness.

Those at WPI hope that everyone in attendance can take something away from Abdul-Jabbar’s many thoughts on life, philosophy and activism.

“We hope that these speakers spark something in our audience that makes them want to re-engage — want to leave the event and talk to friends and people they know about the speaker they just heard,” Sinclair said. “We hope that each of these speakers will reach the audience in ways that make personal sense.”



WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 4

WHERE: Warden Arena on the campus of Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave.,

Winter Park

COST: $15

INFORMATION: winterparkinstitute.org


For original article visit The Orange Observer.

by: Troy Herring

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