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Thursday, February 1, 2007
Civil Rights: The Rookie Tour

Ime Udoka, LaMarcus Aldridge, former Blazer (and current broadcaster) Antonio Harvey recently toured the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. It's in the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. Wright Thompson reports:

Aldridge looks at the statue of Parks. She could be his grandmother. He appreciates her more than he did a few minutes ago. There is admiration in his voice when he speaks.

"It takes somebody who's tough to do it," he says.

"Exactly," Harvey says.

They walk past the bombed-out wreck of another bus, past photos of angry white faces at lunch counters, past metalwork from the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They listen to gospel singers belt out freedom songs.

"Hip-hop was freedom songs when it first came out," Bowles tells the group.

"Now it's about how many cars you got," Aldridge says.

Finally, the tour nears its crescendo. The group winds its way up.

They arrive at room 306.

Everyone is quiet.

This is holy ground indeed.

The trip was spearheaded by Portland's Director of Player Personnel Chris Bowles, who sounds like a pretty remarkable guy. He certainly knows his civil rights history (Harvey says in the article that a lot of NBA veterans do, but no one ever asks them about it), and he apparently ran a very powerful exercise where he had players make family trees, in some cases going all the way back to the days of slavery. In the hyper world of the NBA, very real experiences like that can't be bad.

via Blazer Blog