Chris Webber Talks About His Viral Speech on Racial Justice and Calling the Western Conference Finals

Chris Webber Talks About His Viral Speech on Racial Justice and Calling the Western Conference Finals

Rasheed Wallace is blowing up my phone because he needs a place to stay in Detroit and have my family cook for him. He’s just there doing things in the community. No one’s hearing about it and he’s long gone retired, but I’d just stay active in the community. I don’t know specifically, but hopefully I would listen to whatever my gut was telling me and then act on it.

If you were a player would you sit out?

Yeah. Of course. Especially because I think a majority of the players were together in that decision and I’m glad cooler heads prevailed and they came back and played. So yeah I definitely would’ve been up for it, I definitely would’ve listened, and I definitely would’ve come back and played like these guys are playing, to use their platform. I think they made the right decision and I just think that goes to the great leadership of the player’s union. Of course LeBron, who’s a player but more of an ambassador to basketball. And Adam Silver.

Have you rewatched your clip at all?

No I haven’t watched the whole speech, no. I’ve done interviews and they’ve played a clip but no, no, no. I, I…no. I just hate my voice [laughs]. Honestly I’m just happy my mother and my father, they said ‘baby, we loved the work.’ That was it. If they’re good with it that’s really all that matters. That meant the world to me.

Over the past 25-plus years you’ve amassed an incredible collection of Black art and historical artifacts. I read that the first item you obtained was a pair of wooden handcuffs that were used to transport enslaved people through Mississippi. You were a rookie when you bought that. What drew you to starting a collection at such a young age?

My mother is a teacher. She really wanted to share our history, who we were, what we’ve been through, and what we’ve overcome. It was never out of anger, it was almost just to say this is your secret power. These ancestors are with you. They guide you. They give you strength. I went to a very diverse high school and as many times as it takes for you to listen to your mom, you have to see your friends doing it, so I went to their houses and got to witness their history, friends whose great-grandparents went through horrific things. They kept pieces from some of their most horrific memories, but it was a celebration of those who went through that. That really sat with me in high school, understanding and being part of their family. Those that were tortured share something in common. I really just started admiring their stories.

And after calling the timeout, and being drafted number one three months later, I was infatuated with the fact of stories, inspirational stories, and I started to speak to kids about overcoming. Where you’re born doesn’t define you, your zip code doesn’t define you, the building you grew up in doesn’t define you. How better to do that then to show them live pieces of history? So I talked about Frederick Douglass to them and the heights that he reached as a former slave.

In Washington D.C. I would have members of the NAACP over. I would have members of different unions, of all types, and we would have get-togethers and parties, whether someone would bring a book and speak about it or bring an artifact and speak about it. It was people from all different nations and I got to meet some people who knew how to acquire artifacts. And one of the first artifacts was wooden handcuffs. But it was also a neck brace with a bell on it. And it’s so funny, and I thought about this when I was speaking that night on TNT, but this wooden neck brace, they used to put on the strongest, or the slave that was telling people to stand up for yourself, the loudest one, the troublemaker in their eyes. And they would sit him on the side of the road with this bell, and his neck had to stay straight up. It was an example of, if you talk too much, if you think for yourself, this will be you on the side, so it deterred people. That was one of the first things that I got.

Source : Michael Pina Link

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