NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar invited students from Compton High School to attend the Lakers’ game on Friday to celebrate Black History Month. The students had completed Ever Fi 306—African American History, a computer-based course offered at the high school. One of the requirements of the course was to complete one essay.
“We basically had to choose two topics out of the whole assessment and we had to compare and contrast them and say how was it important to us and how does it affect us,” said high school senior Seanece Watson. “My topic was the Bus Boycott and the Freedom Rides.”
The course consisted of 10 areas, covering topics like the Underground Railroad and figures like Phillis Wheatley, noted Computer Literacy teacher Bobette Phillips.
“Each vignette has videos with it and the students have to answer three to five questions at the end and they’re given a score,” said Phillips.
Abdul-Jabbar hosted a pregame reception where he urged the students to follow their dreams and make positive changes to their community.
“Keep looking for that knowledge because knowledge is power and power makes changes,” Abdul-Jabbar said to the students. “You will make the changes that you need to make in order to make your community a better place.”
Teachers chose students who had the best essays to go to the Lakers game. Abdul-Jabbar awarded the authors of the top three essays on court during the game.
“We wanted to celebrate Black History Month,” said Kiesha Nix, Executive Director of the Lakers Youth Foundation. “It was just so appropriate that we encountered this group from Compton High School that these students are actually enrolled in a particular Black History curriculum.”
Another speaker at the reception was Dr. Michael Hopwood who is collaborating with Ever Fi to create a course on the undefeated national championship winning Compton High School boys’ basketball team. Hopwood was a member of the historical squad.
“We’re the only team in the history of Southern California to this date to have gone undefeated back-to-back,” said Hopwood. “We actually won 88 games and lost two over a three year period of time.”
The Lakers played the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Every person in attendance received a copy of the DVD “On the Shoulders of Giants,” a documentary about the all African American basketball team, the Harlem Renaissance Big Five or the Harlem Rens.
“Any group of students that studies Black History closely will get an idea of what they’re all about,” said Abdul-Jabbar. “What black Americans have contributed to American history is American History.”