Today, the Newseum announced that Cultural Icon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, retired professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, will be presenting Dr. John Carlos and Dr. Tommie C. Smith with their 2018 Free Expression Awards on April 17, 2018.
When American Olympians Carlos and Smith bowed their heads and raised their fists on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics, they were bravely protesting against injustices towards African Americans and people of color around the world. The athletes were banished from the U.S. Olympic team and faced death threats. Still, they remain devoted to the cause of freedom and justice.
During the same summer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also took part in his own form of protest regarding the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the United States by boycotting the 1968 Summer Olympics altogether and not trying out for the United States Men’s Olympic Basketball team.
Throughout his 20 season career, Abdul-Jabbar has been honored as one of the greatest players in NBA history. He is the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer, 6X NBA MVP and a 19X All-Star as well as NY Times best-selling author and columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and The Guardian. In 2016, Abdul-Jabbar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
The Free Expression Awards recognize those who exhibit passion for and dedication to free expression. Honorees have taken personal or professional risks in sharing critical information with the public, have been censored or punished by authorities or other groups for their work, or have pushed boundaries in artistic and media expression.
The event will be hosted by John Seigenthaler, award-winning journalist and former anchor and correspondent at NBC News, as well as the honorary host and steering committees. The other recipients of the 2018 Awards are: