Q&A: Abdul-Jabbar talks new documentary, MLK, social justice

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a NBA legend, but the man known for his trademark skyhook shot has also committed his life advocating for equality and justice.

Q&A: Abdul-Jabbar talks new documentary, MLK, social justice

Abdul-Jabbar will take an additional step into his activism walk within an executive producer and narrator of the documentary "Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America," which premieres Saturday in the History Channel. The one-hour documentary explores the background of protests that shaped the path for justice in America.

"Fight the Power" examines the labor movement of the 1880s, women's suffrage and civil rights along with the LGBTQBlack and + Lives Issue initiatives. Additionally, it features footage from Abdul-Jabbar's personal experiences when he covered one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s news conferences in age 17 and attended the renowned 1967 Cleveland Summit, where prominent Black athletes like Bill Russell and Jim Brown discussed Muhammad Ali's refusal to serve in the Vietnam War.

Abdul-Jabbar stated co-executive producer Deborah Morales was adamant about the documentary wanting to incorporate all classes affected by"bigotry and discrimination." His pursuit toward social justice for marginalized individuals motivated the NBA to create an award bearing his name a month.

In a recent interview, Abdul-Jabbar talked with The Associated Press regarding the significance of project, his unforgettable conversation with King, and also how Emmett Till and James Baldwin were catalysts to his social justice journey.

AP: Why can the documentary focus on several different movements?

ABDUL-JABBAR: For me personally, it is hoping to show what Black Americans have to deal with continues to be experienced with other marginalized groups. We all at one time or another have been targeted by the dominant team. So, we must realize that all people are in precisely the exact same boat and we must stick up for the rights of each marginalized group, not just the ones that we are in that triggers controversy, but to look at other problems."

AP: When did you first realize people of color were treated unfairly in this nation?

And I did not understand it. I asked my parents to explain it. They did not possess the words. I was like"Where do I dwell? Why am I a goal here?

AP: How can you locate any clarity?

ABDUL-JABBAR: '' I had been in the eighth grade. That said it all to me. It gave me an idea of what I had to perform and what Black Americans needed to perform so as to get out from under all of this oppression.

AP: You're a champion on the basketball court and voice of inclusivity. Can you envision this path for yourself, even after your Hall of Fame hoops career?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I never really saw myself as a pioneer in it all. I was someone who talked out. I had enough guts (and was) mad enough to speak out about things. If we do not talk about the issues, they do not get dealt with. So, somebody needs to go out there and talk. You remember all of the controversy behind LeBron (James) stating,"Shut up and dribble is a lot of B.S." You've got to just get to that point at which it's possible to say that and have people know what it means.

AP: Which private experience highlighted from the doc stands out to you the most?

That was incredible. Merely to exchange some words with him. But to comprehend what his message really meant, I never really compared it side by side with what Malcolm X was talking about. When you do so, you find out actually they had the two distinct approaches to the same end: liberty, justice and equality for all Americans. Equality, that is what it ought to be about.

AP: What's your biggest takeaway in the documentary?

ABDUL-JABBAR: It's a series of steps ahead, but there's also some backsliding and also a great deal of attempts to move everything backwards. We had to cope with what people were actually talking about, making America great again. It was not about being great. It had been ruled by a specific group of individuals. They thought that was great. But our country ought to be ruled from the American men and women. And most of us have a vote . All of us have a voice. And we must use our voices and our votes in a righteous way.

AP: Are there other topics you'd like to research in the future?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I'm hoping I can perform a more documentary style piece on the Underground Railroad. There is a stunning bit on right now that is very well done. But we ought to get into the details and let America understand what it was about, since it's an interesting story.

AP: What would be your angle?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Some of the folks involved that you would not, ever be thought to be personalities of the Underground Railroad. For example, what do you know about Wild Bill Hickok? When he was a teenager, he and his father and uncle assist escaping slaves get into Canada. He lived in central Illinois and the flying slaves could go from the Mississippi River around Chicago and southern Wisconsin, get on a boat, go across Lake Michigan. When they got to Canada, they had been free. There's a whole lot of stories like that.

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