Ever wondered how far the NBA’s influence stretches beyond the court? We’re thrilled to bring you insights from Dr. Joel Freeman and Pete Babcock, both veterans of the NBA. Dr. Freeman served as a character coach for the NBA, and Pete Babcock is a former NBA General Manager & Executive–his Nuggets and Hawks teams appeared in the playoffs 14 out of 15 seasons.
Together they join Stand to share inspiring stories from their days with the NBA and to talk about Black History 365 (BH365), a curriculum they describe as a truth-centric and inclusive account of black history that is designed for all ages – from K to “gray.”
The curriculum was authored by Dr. Freeman and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., with collaboration and input from a diverse and broad spectrum of voices, including Dr. Alveda King, Andrew Young, Smokey Robinson, and many more.
Listen as Dr. Freeman and Pete Babcock share about the NBA’s Life Experiences program and its impact on players, offering exposure to influential figures like civil rights leader John Lewis and fostering crucial character development.
This episode challenges traditional perspectives as we discuss the NBA’s strategic approaches to enhancing the lives of its players beyond the court. Freeman & Babcock’s commitment to prioritizing character development is contagious, as they share compellingly about the profound bonds this approach to athletic leadership fosters.
Lastly, we explore the heart of BH365’s unique curriculum, a Black history textbook and musical anthology produced by Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum producer DJ Kao. Dance with us to the rhythm of cultural humility and wisdom in teaching Black history, enjoy the harmony of collaboration, and journey back in time starting from ancient Africa.
This conversation rounds out with fascinating stories about the racial integration of the NBA, the impact of the civil rights movement on the league, and the influence of teaching Black history year-round.
Use this link to order from the Black History 365 store, along with the special discount code AFFSTAND: https://blackhistory365education.shop/AFFSTAND.
Speaker 1: 0:10
Hello Alaska, hello America, welcome to Stand. We are a community of people who believe in standing together with courage, compassion and common sense. We meet the challenges that we face in our communities, our cities and our country. I’m Kelly Chevaca, your host, and I’m joined today by Nikki Chevaca, my co-host, and my wonderful husband. We have an amazing episode in store for you today, and many more great episodes to come, so you won’t want to miss a single one. Please remember to join our community of standouts by subscribing to our show at the Stand Show on YouTube. That’s, at the Stand Show on YouTube. You can also find us on our website, standshoworg, or follow us on social media at Kelly for Alaska.
Speaker 2: 1:04
Thanks, kelly. It is such an honor to have Dr Joel Freeman and Pete Babcock with us today to share some inspiring stories from their days with the NBA and to talk about an incredible black history project. They’ve collaborated on with some of this generation’s most influential black voices across various professions and industries, folks like Dr Alveda King, the niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, andrew Young, a former UN ambassador and former close advisor to the late Reverend King, and Smokey Robinson, the Motown legend, and many others. So let me start by introducing Dr Joel Freeman and Pete Babcock. Joel Freeman served as a character coach for the Washington Bullets, who we now know as the Washington Wizards, for 20 seasons. He was actually among the first in the NBA’s history to serve in that position. In 1995, he co-authored the book Return to Glory, and it has a ford that was written by the legendary Julius Irving, who we all love and remember as Dr J. The book was later made into a very powerful documentary. Joel is an in-demand motivational speaker and coach for educational institutions, government agencies and multinational corporations. He’s traveled extensively throughout Africa. He’s met with over 100 African kings and queens throughout Benin, togo and Nigeria. He’s actively worked to address issues surrounding tribal warfare and the AIDS crisis, among other things. We’re also privileged to have with us Pete Babcock today. Pete served as a general manager for not one, not two, but three NBA franchises the Sandio Clippers, the Atlanta Hawks and the Denver Nuggets, who, as we all know, won the NBA finals this year. He also was the president and minority owner of the Nuggets in his final two seasons. With him, one of the NBA’s finest Pete, was nominated to the 2023 class of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Today he serves as an adjunct professor for Emory University in Atlanta and he’s on Black History 365’s advisory board, and we’re going to talk a lot about Black History 365, or BH 365, later in the show. It’s an amazing curriculum textbook that will just it’s going to blow your minds and I can’t wait for us again to that discussion. So, joel and Pete, thank you for being with us today on stand. It is an honor to have you.
Speaker 4: 4:08
Thank you, good to be here.
Speaker 1: 4:11
Yes, we’re also both excited to have you and to talk with you in person, especially because we’ve had your book, the curriculum book, on our shelf and in our home for a while, so this will be a great discussion. Let’s start talking about character. You both have held various positions in the NBA and you cared a lot about the personal and character development of the players. Pete, let’s start with you. Could you tell us a life lesson that you’d often share with players that you think would be meaningful in the lives of our audience members?
Speaker 3: 4:44
Well, I would say this we started a life experiences program and the point of the life experiences program was to expose our players to things outside the game of basketball. And we tried to set up two events per month during the course of the season and we would do things, a great variety of things. We’d have speakers come in. I was fortunate to work with John Lewis in Atlanta the years that I was there. We became good friends and John would come and have breakfast with the team. We’d get his latest book for all the guys. He would sign a copy for everybody, but then he would share with them his experiences with the Civil Rights Movement, being one of the freedom writers working with Dr King. And the point of doing this was to expose our players, as I said before, to things outside the game of basketball. That life is much bigger than just the game, and we were able to use the vehicle, the NBA, to open a lot of doors. So if we called and asked somebody, could we tour Ford’s Theater in Washington DC and can you close it down just for our team and let them have the experience of speaking with a park ranger who’s an expert on the Lincoln assassination, they would do it for us. So, again, we would try to do two every month and to this day I still hear from players, our former players, who will talk to me about these different events more so than they will. A game that we’ve had or a playoff series that we had, They’ll talk about. Wow, that visit to wherever was something that really stuck with me. So that’s kind of how we tried to approach the game. So it’s using the vehicle the NBA to enhance the lives of our players. So it was more than just a game.
Speaker 1: 6:54
Yeah, that sounds like a brilliant strategy. I’ve heard people talk about character as the dual track of like a railroad track of competence. You have competence and character and if you don’t build the other side of the track you get derailed. And clearly the NBA players are really competent at their sports game. But it sounds like you really put an emphasis in premium on building the character component as well, because that was important to building who that person was. It wasn’t just about the game, it was about who they were on the inside.
Speaker 3: 7:30
Well, that’s how we have chose to approach it and the philosophy that we embraced as we tried to build a championship contender, no matter where we were, and we wanted to send a message to our players that the total human being was more important than just the playing skill of a player. So we developed a very close bond with our players through all of this and which, fortunately, is allowed us to keep staying in touch over the years, where, you know, we still talk to former players, we keep in touch with them, their families, so it’s I hope that it’s made a difference with them, because it certainly made a difference with us as a staff.
Speaker 1: 8:15
Yeah, I like how you were saying you weren’t using players to win games, but you were using the games or the NBA to build players. That’s really cool.
Speaker 2: 8:26
Yeah, and that was part of what you were trying anyway. Well, that’s also part of what well integral to what your job was, joel, as one of the first NBA player development mentors and character coaches. Could you just briefly tell us some of the challenges involved in truly connecting with players at the pro level?
Speaker 4: 8:50
Yes, and Pete, I love what you did and love what you do. Yeah, what we did I started. I’m from Alberta, canada, where I come from Sissy’s where figure skates and play basketball, and so I didn’t know any players, which I think served me well. I mean, if you had brought in Boom Boom Jeffery on or Stan Makita or any of the hockey players I would have been my tongue, would be on the ground and be like, oh my goodness, and they would sense that because players have this special sonar radar system set up where they can tell and they can switch up with whoever they’re with. But it takes, I would say, their position in life attracts a lot of insincere people, and so they have developed this kind of sense of trying to figure someone out, and sometimes they don’t know for seven, eight, nine years sometimes what the real motivation is of a person. So I felt very fortunate and blessed to be able to come in at gosh. I was 25 years of age, I looked 15, maybe 16, if I grew a little mustache or beard or something like that, and we’re wingtip loafers or a pinstripe suit with a red reptile or something like that, trying to look a little older. But it was one of those things where somehow they began to ask questions and they were trying to figure me out, to see if I was worthy of their trust. And so they would ask questions, because I was a character coach and some would call a chaplain, which is a combination of a lot of layers to it. But they would ask questions like what part did people of African descent play in extra biblical history? I didn’t have a clue, and so, in order for me to volley well in the conversation, I began to study, and if my wife were here, she would tell you that man every night, starting in 1980, this is all pre-digital and so I would go to the library and I would get those big old Hawking VHS tapes and get eyes on the prize. Part one, part two Africa, a Void of Discovery, a BBC series by Basil Davidson, and just anything to do with African history or African-American history.
Speaker 1: 11:12
Dr Freeman, I’m going to pause you because we want to hear this. We’re going to pause for a short break and we’re going to pick up with what you learned in these books. When we come back From our break, you’re on stand with Nikki and Kelly Chewbacca, Dr Joel Freeman and Pete Bap Hop for Gentlemanager PNPA. We hope you enjoyed the book.
Speaker 2: 12:01
Welcome back to stand. We are joined by Pete Babcock and Dr Joel Freeman. Dr Joel was just telling us about how he connected with NBA players in his role asa, player development mentor and character coach. So please finish your story, dr Joel.
Speaker 4: 12:22
Yes, it’s just very quick. What would happen is we would study and then we’d start talking about things and little by little you know the trust developed and I ended up surviving six coaching changes and three GM changes and Pete can testify that GM’s and coaches tend to clear the deck when they come in. That’s probably the biggest miracle of all and have kept in touch with a lot of the players, but a lot of it was just letting them know that I love them unconditionally, letting them and when I get stood up for lunch or dinner. Once my wife, we invited five of the players and their families over and not one showed up after cooking this wonderful dinner and not getting developing a bad attitude about it. You know all of that plays into all this, because I think that’s the way our souls, the seams of our soul, get checked out, to see what our true motivation is. It takes about three to four seasons for that to kind of the fire to burn out all that stuff being in awe of people and all that kind of stuff. And you have to go through it. You can’t read a book, you can’t go to a seminar to learn about it, you have to actually experience it. And so I tell future chaplains you know, first year you’re going to be in awe. They’re going to sense it, it’s going to be that way. Second year you’re going to develop a bad attitude. It’s going to be that way, they’re going to sense it. And by about the third year things will start moving in a wonderful, positive direction if they and you can hang in together.
Speaker 2: 13:51
Well, I don’t you know, privilege role to be able to serve them in that way. And I’d like to pivot, if we could, because your work in the NBA and the relationship you developed you now have leveraged in a collaboration in this textbook Black History 365, bh 365. It’s something that you’ve collaborated on, dr Joe. You co-authored this with your colleague, dr Walter Milton Jr and a support team of amazing seasoned historians and curriculum developers. It’s a truly remarkable achievement. Before we get into the book itself and what you’ve done with it, I wanted to just share a little bit with you guys and with our audience why I’m so passionate about this particular recounting of Black history. You know my father is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was a former political refugee. His father was the chief of their clan and I spent half of my childhood in Africa. So ever since I was a kid I had a profound interest in Black history. I loved reading the stories of King Shaka of South Africa, some amazing military genius who built a massive empire during his time. The great freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko of South Africa. Of course, martin Luther King Jr, the literary geniuses that we know and love, like Richard Wright and Chinua Chebe and the abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, and I’m sure all of those folks are in this book. We could go on and on, but the point is, I’ve been a student of Black history for over 40 years and I have never experienced or gone through a book like this, because it’s more than just a textbook, and that’s what I really want to emphasize to our audience. This is an experience. It’s more than just reading about Black history. You experience it in a multi-dimensional way that I believe is really unique. So with that context, joel, could I start off by just asking could you tell us how you and Dr Milton got started on this, what inspired you to do this amazing work and what were you hoping to accomplish?
Speaker 4: 16:31
Well, great question. Thank you so much. I wish everyone could meet and maybe in the future we’ll meet Dr Walter Milton. He is one of the most incredible human beings we had met. About 25 years ago he invited me. He was a school superintendent at Springfield, illinois and he invited me to come and do a program called Dealing with People who Drive you Crazy with his leadership team there. What happened is we developed such a bond, we kept in touch and then he called me about five and a half years ago and he said hey, joel, would you like to help me out here? He’s the founder of the Trailblazer. He called me in and I told him later you had me at hello or hey, whatever he started with. We spent two and a half years, literally two and a half years, 12, 60-hour days. It was like Groundhog Day, going down Alice in Wonderlands, rabbit Hole, and I’m still wobbling around a little bit. It was a weird, crazy experience of researching, writing, editing, researching, writing, editing and rinsing, repeat, and you can imagine you’re going by a month, six months, a year no end in sight, year and a half no end in sight, two years no end in sight, and then finally, two and a half years. What emerged is this book right here. And this book it ended up. Oh, my goodness, this was the result. Five and a half pounds see, I got it upside down. Five and a half pounds and it has about 1200 QR codes throughout. This is like a black history encyclopedia and it would be a 20 volume encyclopedia, but all these QR codes help us to go deep and wide. So instead of spending three pages recounting the amendment overview of the 13th amendment, someone can go and watch a video about it, and so we have a proprietary process for that. And the elephant experience we can talk about later if you want. And the advisory board we had to build a system, you know, institutionalize it, because we’re just two guys, and to have Pete and Smokey and Alveda and Ben Crump and so many others. We wanted the makeup of our advisory board to be a metaphor for what the students would experience people on the left and the right, because this is our love letter to the entire country, not just 50%. For too long we’ve been polarized and this binary situation has happened and we just are very careful. We probably turned down more media interviews than we’ve accepted, because the worst thing would be a politician from either side of the political aisle holding this up and saying this is the answer to CRT for or against. And so that’s been the way we’ve architected this. We did a SWAT analysis on it and our hope to germane to your question, nikki is that this will be something that generationally, as we bring in, like some HBCUs, to do some studies with the parents, the students and the educators, and, over one year, five years, 10 years, 12, 15 years, to see the difference that this is making in our society. What a great opportunity.
Speaker 2: 19:47
That’s just. That’s amazing, and I’d like to follow up with you. Pete, if you could talk a little bit about how you got involved in this project and why you believe it’s so important. We’ve got about three minutes left in this segment.
Speaker 3: 20:06
Well, joel was very gracious in asking me to be a part of it and, to make it clear, I was a very, very small part, so I was along for the ride. Basically, joel had asked me, we’d been friends and we’d talked about civil rights movement and the game of basketball because I teach classes on that and it’s been one of my passions for years. So Joel contacted me and said would I write a chapter on that particular topic? So that’s how I got involved with it. But I guess you know our life experiences really mold us into whatever we’re going to be, and I spent a majority of my adult life working in the National Basketball Association and so it was a predominantly black business in the years that I was involved Not in the beginning it was all white, but I was always enamored with, interested in how it all got started, how the league went from being an all-white league to now a predominant league, African-American league, and just how that contributed to society and how the civil rights movement benefited from the National Basketball Association and how the game of basketball benefited from the civil rights movement, because there’s so much overlap between the two. And so that’s where my interest came and then again, as I said, joel was good enough to let me be a very, very small part of this unbelievable project, and I couldn’t be happier to do it. We’ve got books out to a lot of different people throughout the NBA who are supporting this completely, who are enthusiastic about it. So I think it’s just an amazing project and I agree with Joel. Where our society has become so divided on so many ridiculous issues, where almost all the important issues in life we, almost everybody, agrees on that, all of a sudden we take these little things and divide us dramatically. And one of the issues that’s been such a big problem in our country has been race and it needs to be addressed, and this book just does a remarkable job in telling the story.
Speaker 2: 22:42
That’s so powerful and it’s so great that you got to write a part of it, and that’s what I mean by how multi-dimensional this book is to get that kind of a perspective coming from somebody who was a senior executive in the NBA to talk about the integration process in the movement for the civil rights movement and the NBA. So if we could, on the other side of this break, I’d like to talk to you, joel, about what is meant. You talk about the curriculum as being truth-centric and inclusive, and so we’re going to talk about that on the other side of this break. Don’t go away, folks. We’re back with Joel and Pete and we’ve been talking about BH365. Joel, right before the break, I asked you about how you describe this curriculum. You have said it is truth-centric and inclusive. Could you explain what you mean by that?
Speaker 4: 24:00
Yes, the title subtitle says an inclusive account of American history, and that was a very important. We thought over every word on that subtitle. Secondly, you used the term inclusive and truth-centric, and solutionist. Solutionist and truth-centric are two words that we use as part of our for lack of better term brand. What we’re all about, the DNA of this project, the term truth-centric is that, for instance, during our writing, we dealt with a lot of hot topics Uncle Tom, three-fifths of a human being lynching should we tear the statues down? Can a white person never fully understand the black experience in America? Black people in the deadly dance with both American political party machines, scientific racism, manifest destiny, doctrine of discovery these are hot topics that many people bump heads over. And so whenever there was a topic that, as a white person, the black experience is not my experience in America, I’m from Canada, I have a white consciousness, a Canadian consciousness and so on. But the thing is is that when it came to writing about, for instance, the N-word, I told Walter. I said I can’t, I’m not going to do that, you’ve got to do that. And any time there was a situation in the writing where I had some questions, I’d bring it to Walter and say how does this sound? How does this come across? So we had a razor’s edge, and Walter was the keeper of the razor’s edge, the truth-centric approach, that not leaning toward Afrocentrism, the excesses thereof, or leaning toward the excesses of Eurocentrism. We brought in this whole concept of the razor’s edge of truth-centrism. That is not the destination, it’s the essence of the journey. It’s how are we going to do this journey together? Are we going to divide over it? Are we going to get mad at each other and block each other? Are we going to call each other racist to end an uncomfortable conversation? And so we have developed a whole process in this so that the first class is not even about black history. It’s about the students developing a code of conduct, rules of engagement made up of we will, we will not statements that they create, because if the four of us came up with that, students would be rebelling all across the country. I didn’t agree with that word, I didn’t put that in there. They didn’t want me to do that, no way. But if they create it and anyone breaks it, they deal with it. And then a talking stick. And, by the way, we’ve done that around the world in different organizations multinational leaders, heads of state, all kinds of corporations and education, and it’s always worked. And then a talking stick. They create their own talking stick that is used for about two minutes, two weeks in the class, really, actually, and then it becomes a metaphor throughout. So those are the kind of the techniques, the things that we used I don’t even like the word techniques. I guess the DNA or the atmosphere, the kind of something that we want to create in a classroom that is not clinical, something that is feeling that the students are all about, in fact, based Joel, I think you described really well that the telling of history can be a delicate balance and it can have a big effect on how we tell that story.
Speaker 1: 27:25
It can shape the future, and that’s a question that I have for you, pete, in your perspective on Black History 365, how do you think it can shape a hopeful future for us here in America?
Speaker 3: 27:38
Well, I think the fact that we’re studying history from the perspective that Joel just presented, I think, is important for everybody in the country. Everybody needs to be exposed to it, everybody needs to understand it and it’s part of its empathy, part of its knowledge. You know, there’s a whole thing about knowledge as power, and telling the truth about what’s happened in our society in past generations and what’s happening today just helps educate us, and the better educated we all are, the better decisions we make going forward and the better perspective we have on life and the better we understand other viewpoints. So that helps break down some of these barriers. I tell young people all the time it’s really important to respect others for their differences rather than discriminating because of those differences. So don’t expect everybody to be like you. Understand those differences, learn about them. Respect them Doesn’t mean you have to agree, doesn’t mean you have to adopt their philosophy of life, but understand it. And the better we understand our history, I think, the healthier our society is.
Speaker 1: 29:05
A better understanding is really important when you’re talking about history, and one of the things that’s unique about this curriculum you already kind of referred to it, joel is this is a modernized curriculum with QR codes throughout and a in-depth music album that goes along with it that hit number one on the iTunes chart. Can you talk to us a little bit about that and why you chose to make this a student interactive curriculum and how it works?
Speaker 4: 29:33
Yes, we have. We are playing 3D chess, maybe 4D chess, I’m not sure sometimes. But what’s important is we have parent engagement. We’ll go into a community because any key decision makers, like superintendents, when we come to them with a black history curriculum, they’re saying oh my goodness, I’m going to get 150 parents writing the angry parents, what are we doing? How are we going to go about this? And so we’re willing to come into a community and work with the parents and they get to meet the authors. We talk about things. They can put their finger in our pulse, on our heart, and so they understand where we’re coming from as the ones who put this together. And then engaging with the teachers because a high number of teachers are Caucasian is that different teachers come in with different agendas, different pain points and emotional pain thresholds. So some might come in with a lot of anger, bitterness, others might come into a lot of fear and angst. Oh no, I hope they don’t bring this topic up. I’m going to probably say something stupid and the parents are going to get on my case. So we have a whole process for the teachers. It’s called from cultural competence to cultural humility. So, as Pete talked about, knowledge is power. That’s cultural competence, cultural humility is wisdom. So wisdom a great definition for wisdom that I’ve used over the years that’s really helped me is wisdom is the application of knowledge, and so knowledge is important. It’s a basis for wisdom, because without knowledge there’s no wisdom. To apply that knowledge it just doesn’t work. So it’s the whole idea of taking that knowledge and in the DNA of knowledge. Knowledge is pride and arrogance. I know more in you. I can debate you, I can destroy your position and all that that’s within the DNA of knowledge. But it’s an occupational hazard for everyone who wants to be wise, the gut, to gain the knowledge. Somehow life knocks the stuffings out of us and wisdom hopefully emerges as a result. Hopefully it comes with years and hopefully it comes with tears. But all the rest of it, that’s the way it works, and so we bring the teachers through that and then we come alongside them. This is less transactional and more missional, because when they come home in the evening my wife was a teacher Go shopping, cook dinner, and then around 8.30 she said oh no, tomorrow morning I’m supposed to do this topic in class. Well, guess what? Our professional development people, the person assigned to this teacher, is up until 10 o’clock that night. So at 8.30, 9 o’clock they can call up the person and we’re not going to solve the problem for them, we’re going to give them a kind of go back and forth options on how they can deal with that in the next morning. And then, of course, the administrators. A big part of that is when we approach administrators. It’s the fact that Smokey Robinson, pete Babcock and Kathy Hughes and a host of other people Bill Haley Jr, alattilly’s grandson are all part of this. And as soon as they hear that and understand what we’ve built here, they go oh OK, if Smokey’s a part of this, it can’t be too weird, can’t be too off the rails. And so then that opens up. If we have an arbitrary scale of stress on 0 to 20, it brings them down to maybe eight or nine. Now they’re in an emotional place to listen to what we have to say. And now we’re in over 265 school districts. Many school districts have 100, 200 schools in them and it’s just amazing how it’s gaining a head of steam around the country 15 colleges and universities, k through 12. We like to say it’s from K to Gray.
Speaker 1: 33:16
From. K to Gray. I like that.
Speaker 3: 33:18
I think in bringing all those collaborators in you took out the agenda, Kelly. This is why, when I have questions about how to answer certain questions, I call Joel to ask him to get his advice, because he always has a great answer for me and not only motivates me, but gives me a great answer so I can respond to people properly.
Speaker 1: 33:42
I think it’s great. Well, one of the things that I think is super appealing, as a mom and someone who’s involved in education curriculum, is that this is the black history book brought to you by the guys in the NBA, and we have one of our kids who’s absolutely dead serious that his career objective is going to the NBA, and so the way that we’re going to sell this at home is you’ve got to read this history book, thank you, brought to you by the NBA, right, I’m absolutely confident this will be his favorite history book. So we’re going to take a short break and when we get back I want to talk to you a little bit, pete, about the sections of this book that you contributed to, based on your perspective of going through that racial integration transition in the NBA. So we’ll be right back with Stan, with Nikki and Kelly Chevacca.
Speaker 2: 34:55
Back with Joel and Pete and we’re talking about BH365, and I’d like to touch on if I could, joel, with you a little bit more about what makes this curriculum so unique. We talked about this 41-song musical anthology of Black history. That is part of it and that was produced by DJ Kao, who is an Emmy-nominated, or rather Grammy-nominated, multi-platinem producer, who’s produced for people who aren’t very well-known, like Snoop Dogg and Luterkris and Jay-Z I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them, but just amazing, amazing, and the music is fantastic. We’ll play a song at the end of this show for folks. But another thing that makes this really unique is how you started this recounting of Black history. So a lot of Black history books start with the transatlantic slave trade, but you started with ancient Africa and I think that makes a really powerful point, because Black history extends across thousands of ethnic groups and cultures and languages. It encompasses powerful empire, some of the earliest technological advances in human history. It includes some of the most beautiful art in the world. So if you could tell us why you and your co-author, dr Milton, chose to begin your recounting of Black history with ancient Africa.
Speaker 4: 36:30
And first of all, we just came out with this. Pete hasn’t even seen it yet. This is the songbook, all the lyrics that are in the whole textbook and with the QR code where people can go. I’m not going to show it too quick because someone will freeze the frame and get free music, but the thing is is that, yeah, we started in ancient Africa and how Africa got its name? Ancient African civilizations. There’s images in here that people have never seen before. My wife and I own a Black history collection of well over 3,000 items. The oldest piece dates back to 1553. So these aren’t you know, one-fifth of all the images come from our collection. These are images people have never seen before, original images, and so it’s not just a book filled with stock images from Stuttershock and all the rest of the stock image companies. So that’s a unique aspect. Why did we start in ancient Africa? We wanted to talk about hunting and gathering and fishing, industry, agriculture. We wanted to talk about the creativity, the metallurgy, all the different, the genius that was going on in ancient Africa, and then also to talk about the kingdoms that transcend the current geopolitical lines, and now we’re ready for the good, the bad and the ugly of the last four centuries here in America, and so, and then, even when we started talking about slave enslavement and we call it kidnapping and being captive, and we talk about the slave rebellions because we wanted to show that there was not hardly anyone was docile going along with this. There was a lot of passive and passive and aggressive ways of fighting against this the rebellions that happened on ships, the rebellions that happened before they got on ships, the rebellions that happened after they got off ships. And so then we draw this gentle timeline throughout history. It incorporates the Civil War, emancipation, proclamation, reconstruction, harlem, renaissance, world War I, world War II and the Great Migration from the south to the north and then from the south to the west, and we encompass this whole panoramic view and then we end in Canada of all places. Because really, what happened to people who left the south? You know, many were under the Stockholm Syndrome, where I’ve got something I know here the fear of going to the unknown. It had to be a terrible situation for them to be pushed out to go north. And then the mid-1850s, the fugitive, slave laws pushed them into Canada. And what happened to them? In Hogan’s Alley, in Vancouver, in Afrikville, in Halifax, and all the different villages and the towns that built up Oro-Mende and the Don settlement in Ontario. So it’s fascinating history and I won’t go into detail. You’ve got to get the book to figure all those stories out. But there’s some fascinating stuff. So that’s kind of the way we built and constructed this.
Speaker 1: 39:41
And you built it with him, pete. There’s parts of the book that you wrote and I’d like to share a little bit about that, with your perspective as an NBA general manager and the racial integration that you witnessed in those roles.
Speaker 3: 39:55
Well, it’s an interesting point because the NBA, when it started in 1949, was an all-white league and they had merged together with the National Basketball League, which actually had integrated years of several years before that. But the NBA refused to allow blacks to play in 1949. In 1950, red Arbac, with the Boston Celtics, drafted the first African-American player. His name was Chuck Cooper. There’s a whole backstory to that and how that all came about. Red Arbac, as a high school player in New York City, had heard about this dominant team called the New York Renaissance and I won’t go into all the details about that old team. That’s a long story, but it was owned and coached by a black businessman named Bobby Douglas. Red Arbac went to Harlem to watch this team play when he was 16 years old. He’s one of the only white faces in the crowd. He wants to see this team. That’s a dominant, dominant team. After the game he went into the locker room, somehow got into the locker room, introduced himself to Bobby Douglas. He asked Bobby Douglas a question about strategy, like why were you? The first half you were blowing this team out and you were playing man-to-man defense. The second half, you went to a zone and they came back on you. Why would you not go back to your man-to-man defense? And some of the players were mad and upset like get this white kid out of the locker room. He’s questioning our coach. And Bobby Douglas said no, no, I want to respond to him and explain to him. So Bobby Douglas told him we’re in the business. I have to pay my players. They’re under contract with me. I have to schedule games. If we blow that team out tonight, they’re not going to play us again. But if we let them think they might win, we’re not going to let them win. They think they might win. Make it somewhat close 10, 15 point games out of a 40 point blowout. They may come back and say, yeah, we almost beat them last time, let’s play them again. As a result of this, bobby Douglas and Red Arbeck become actually very close friends a 16 year old white kid and this black businessman. And Bobby Douglas mentored Red, helped him get a scholarship to George Washington to play basketball, helped him get his first coaching job, helped him get the coaching job with Celtics. So that’s a long way of getting to the point of telling you that Red Arbeck is told by Bobby Douglas. It’s safe for you to draft Chuck Cooper, who was at that point a member of the, the Globetrotters, and because Abe Saperstein and all the Globetrotters didn’t want any of the NBA owners to touch his players. But Chuck Cooper, who was a college graduate, was talking to his teammates saying we’re getting to take advantage here by Abe. He’s not paying us enough, we don’t have living conditions on the road aren’t very good, so he’s campaigning for better conditions, right, and Abe wanted to get rid of him. So he had to open the door for Chuck Cooper to get drafted. And then Earl Lloyd gets drafted as the 100th pick by the Washington Capitals and he becomes the first player to step foot on the floor, because their first game was before the Celtics’ first game. And then a third player named Harold Hunter was the first player to sign a contract, the first African-American to sign a contract. He happened to sign with the Washington Capitals. The problem was there was an unwritten quota system at the very beginning of one black per team and the Washington Capitals got cold feet and were afraid to have Harold Hunter and Earl Lloyd. So they cut Harold Hunter. And Harold Hunter never played in the NBA and ended up being a successful college coach but never played in the NBA. So that opened the door and the quota system was in effect and it went from like one black per team to two blacks per team, to three to four, and then it was okay as long as you didn’t have five black starting and Red Arbex started five black players and so it was a. There were many painful stories along the way about things the players went through, but we tell some of those stories in the book.
Speaker 1: 44:44
That’s amazing. It’s like you said at the beginning, how the civil rights movement affected the NBA and how the NBA affected the progression of the civil rights movement. So, to all of our audience members and our standouts who join us regularly, I really want to encourage you to buy Black History 365, bh 365. You can see the book on our desk here behind us. The link to buy the curriculum is on our website, standshoworg, and if you access the book through that link, we are offering you, thanks to Joel and Pete, a 5% discount on the book, and this makes a great gift for people. It’s obviously a lot of us are curriculum, but we personally just like it as a book for our family and it comes in different reading levels. So, as Joel said earlier, it’s written for K kindergarten through gray, the grandma and grandpa in your home. So please get Black History 365 at standshoworg and remember to follow us and subscribe. We’re on YouTube, at the stand show and at standshoworg or on social media. Kelly for Alaska, and we’ll see you next time. Joel and Pete, thanks so much for being with us today. This has been a delightful interview. We appreciate it and everyone stay tuned, we’re going to hear.
Speaker 2: 46:04
Black is beautiful with the amazing DJ KO. Thanks guys.
Speaker 5: 46:49
You can say that I’m clinic-comfortable up in my own skin. This one’s where the melanin, this one’s where the melanin. Everyone who holds the elements of the melanin Stand up. Stand up. Put your fist in the air If you’re feeling the hand on, Okay yo.
Speaker 6: 47:12
Now ain’t nobody being biased on the state facts. When I think about greatness, it go back to black. I think about all the pain our people went through. The history was wiped out. Our people built America. The monument’s, the White House yeah, we got the credit. Man, the names was never mentioned. Invented electric railways, home security systems, conceded in the summer is how does it make be you can think of black man for inventing the AC, traffic light, blood bank, gas magic. It’s greater bruh. You’re walking up a lot of stairs without the elevator, refrigerated stones, your TV, remote control, the elevator, the guitar, the jam. We got souls, spark plug, motor, we roll. I’m so proud of this Screaming at the top of my lungs to make it obvious no rights, no education, but man, it’s the steel wind. We don’t know what we’re doing if we don’t know what we’ve been, no excuse. Black is beautiful. Yeah, shit, shit, yeah. Black is beautiful, black is beautiful.
Speaker 5: 48:15
Yeah, shit, shit. Yeah. Black is beautiful. You can see that I’m clearly comfortable up in my own skin. This one’s where the manlin’ in. This one’s where the manlin’ in Everyone who holds the elements of the relevant Send up, send up, put your fists in the air if you’re feeling the anger. All right, you don’t know my story yet. What you know is the glory of avoiding and recording text. I am not a slave man. I am not a victim. I am more than I forgave man. I represent the whole body beneath me. I’m a waze man. I bob when I walk. Man, I’m animated, like to use my hands when I talk. Man, I’m loud to a soft man. This passion when you make it this far. You are a boss man. Point me to the kitchen. I’m a stalker, with a saucepan, the smell of hot combs. I am your knock when I am not home. Echo to a talking wall telling you how I spot on. The promise of apprenticeship, the hope of abolition. It’s the fashion they imagine. I am dripping in best wishes, the tears in the eyes of a lynchman that ran under the land sprawling roots in here to here I am. You live different, knowing limits, live beyond the skies, and that’s why I am black. History 365 tell em you, black as beautiful, yes, it is. Yeah, you, black as beautiful, yeah, I’m a true. You, black as beautiful, yeah, it’s it’s. Yeah, you black as beautiful, yeah, I’m a true. You can say that I’m clearly comfortable up in my own skin, comfortable up in my own skin. This one’s where the melanin, this one’s where the melanin, everyone who holds the elements of the melanin, stand up, stand up, put your fists in the air if you’re feeling the animal, if you’re black and you love it, if you’re black and you love it this way, if you’re black and you love it this way. Yeah, I’m a king, yeah, a queen, very special indeed. Yeah, I’m a king, yeah, a queen, very special indeed, very special indeed, very special indeed. Woo Joe welcome.
Speaker 6: 50:57
We got one baby, j Morris Mark X-X. Black History 365, ko, you’re welcome. Entywh-n타wanorg.