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Activism And Sports Blend On The Court, As Black Athletes 'Speak Up And Dribble'

Saturday afternoon, Washington Jefferson Park in Eugene was teeming with the sound of basketball games and chants for Black justice.  It was all part of the “Speak Up and Dribble” event.

More than 100 people – including families – turned out.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

The event’s name refers to a 2018 broadside Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham fired at NBA star LeBron James, after he criticized President Trump.  Ingraham said James should just “shut up and dribble”.

James replied her remark only amplified his calls for social justice, and inspired more Black Americans to speak out against racism and system problems that affect their communities. 

It has also led to 'Speak Up and Dribble' becoming a recurring event that's enjoyed renewed attention during the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks.

Event organizer Patty Medina said young athletes can also be a positive force in the movement.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Attendees line up and prepare to start a march through downtown Eugene and back to Washington Jefferson Park.

“You don’t have to be a rebel and y’know, go burn down buildings, like you can actually make a change through a positive impact," she said.

"And so what we want to let athletes know is that through hooping and through basketball, they’re able to create change with their talents.”

The crowd also listened to speakers, and dribbled basketballs while marching through Eugene.

Further information can be found at HooperMentality.com and on Speak Up and Dribble's Instagram account

WEB EXTRA: Watch the beginning of today's march at Washington Jefferson Park:

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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