article by Evan Grossman via nydailynews.com
No highlight, championship or individual accomplishment showcased during the 2016 ESPY Awards Wednesday night was more powerful than the show’s cold opening.
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James teamed up for a moving call to action for other athletes to use their celebrity, influence and resources to make a difference in a divided America plagued by gun violence, injustice and racism.
Anthony turned to Instagram last week as the nation was torn by the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the retaliatory attack that led to the deaths of five Dallas police officers to urge others to inspire change. This week, he said he plans to use the Summer Olympics as another platform to spread his message, indicating he is not taking this lightly.
Reminiscent of Muhammad Ali’s black athlete summit from the summer of 1967, Melo started the show on a moving note when he was joined by fellow NBA stars Paul, Wade and James in a three-and-a-half-minute speech that, because of its social significance, timeliness and let’s face it, the need right now for more thoughtful and serious social leadership, may have eclipsed the legendary Jimmy V speech as ESPN’s finest moment.
Below is the transcript of their speech.
Good evening. Tonight is a celebration of sports, celebrating our accomplishments and our victories. But, in this moment of celebration, we asked to start the show tonight this way, the four of us talking to our fellow athletes, with the country watching.
Because we cannot ignore the reality of the current state of America. The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us.
The system is broken. The problems are not new. The violence is not new. And the racial divide definitely is not new.
But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high. Continue reading