Last week, three-time NBA Champion and activist, Stephen Curry, joined Dr. Clarence B. Jones, an icon of the Black freedom movement in the U.S. and a leading voice for social justice and civil rights, in an intimate conversation around the racial crisis and urgency of social change, as part of the University of San Francisco’s Silk Speaker Series.
Titled “The Dream Marches On,” the conversation was moderated by USF’s Vice President of Engagement and former Olympic gold medalist, Jennifer Azzi.
Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s foundation Eat. Learn. Play has donated $150,000 to local organizations fighting for racial justice including Oakland’s Black Organizing Project (BOP) and USF’s Institute for Non-Violence and Social Justice. They have also generously issued a fundraising challenge and will be matching donations to encourage support for the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice up to $75,000.
To donate to USF’s Institute for Nonviolence Social Justice, listeners can text “Give” to 415-695-2090.
Watch the full conversation HERE.
ON HOW STEPHEN IS CHALLENGING HIS PARTNERS & COLLEAGUES, AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES:
Stephen: "From my stand point, its holding everyone around me accountable to follow suit. When it comes to my brand partners, people I come across in our organization, in my foundation – they need to spread love and positivity to anybody in any walk of life. They have to have an action and perspective of how they are interacting with the black communities, investing with black communities. How they are checking their prejudice at the door and saying “Are we listening and are we empathetic to [the black] experience?” …It won’t be an overnight thing because you can’t just rectify 400 years of injustices. I’m trying to create a program and platform of questions that I ask every single person I do business with and have a personal relationship with. And hopefully that’ll inspire them to carry that torch and do it in their own circles, and we can have a wildfire spread like that. Those are the tangible steps. As we look ahead, being bold and understanding the power that we have.
“The next step is how do we get better representation. From a coaching perspective, from a general management perspective, from league owners – and this is from basketball being a microcosm of culture in general. We need more of a representation in every industry in every position of power and leadership— that our voices are heard in a much more meaningful way. You can look at the most powerful companies and entities in the United States and the mass majority are going to be led by white men that are in positions of power. We have to figure out how to purposely change that as we continue to grow so that there’s a trickledown effect.”
ON PEACEFUL PROTESTS:
Dr. Jones: “For those of us who say ‘No Justice, No Peace’ we’re talking about peaceful justice. We’re talking about redemptive love. Our movement was led on the ability to love that person who may have been a racist, but love that person to let them come and join us.”
DR. JONES ON BEING MOVED BY THE NUMBER OF WHITE PEOPLE IN THIS MOVEMENT:
Dr. Jones: “The country we have today is the successor country of the institution of slavery and the ideology of white supremacy…this is important because power in the history of our country has almost virtually continually and exclusively been in the hands of white people. That is not an arguable fact…that’s the reason I’m so touched when I see these white people coming out. These are the sons and daughters and grandsons and daughters of the people who control the power, that created the whole institution of slavery.”
ON HOW TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE WITH RACISTS:
Dr. Jones: Nobody is beyond the scope of redemption. So as much as we have to put up, particularly on social media, with white people who will say crazy things, nasty things, racist things… you have to look at what they say and try to separate it and remember that they too are a human being. They are racist, but if you are really interested in reaching somebody’s soul, you have to say you have the capacity to love them even though you don’t agree with what they say… You can’t give up on them… There are certain kind of burdens that come with people who are morally committed to something.
DR. JONES ON STEPHEN’S INFLUENCE:
Dr. Jones: "Martin Luther King said to me ‘Anyone can stand with you in the warm sunlight of an August summer, but only a Winter time soldier stands with you at midnight in the Alpine winter.’ I never forgot that. You see those white people walking, they are wintertime soldiers. Stephen Curry, you and Ayesha, you are wintertime soldiers… You aren’t just another good basketball player, you are a good basketball player with a soul and a heart who cares about the least of these.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION:
Stephen: “Embrace this opportunity to use whatever God has given you, whatever platform, whatever passion, drive that you have to try to better the person next to you. That’ll take you a long way because there’s no selfish ambition in all of this, it’s all about making a better experience for our kids and their children. We have the ability to do that. Don’t get discouraged about however long of a process this is going to be.”