Rockets’ Russell Westbrook: My ‘Duty’ to Show People It’s OK to Take a Stand

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a dunk, next to Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook was one of numerous special guests during the Juneteenth block party in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, and he discussed his ability to use his platform as a professional athlete to encourage others to speak out in an interview alongside documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson (h/t Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic):

Alykhan Bijani @Rockets_Insider

Russell Westbrook: “I can reach that demographic of people and kids and let them know it’s okay to stand up…It’s going to be a struggle. It’s not just -snap of a finger- going to change tomorrow. Just take it step by step. Whether it’s protests, finding ways to bring light…”

“I feel like it’s my duty not just as an African-American male but being in this position having this platform to now be able to show and let people know that it’s OK to stand up for what you believe in, it’s OK to be able to sacrifice, it’s OK to be able to stand up and be strong and understand how important your word, your movement, the youth movement is, because I believe that with my platform, I’m able to kind of reach that demographic of people and kids around the world to let them know it’s OK to be able to stand up.” 

Westbrook and Nelson teamed with Blackfin to produce the docuseries Terror In Tulsa: The Rise And Fall of Black Wall Street, which will cover the Tulsa Race Massacre, per Etan Vlessing of the Hollywood Reporter

In 1921, white racists burned down Tulsa’s Greenwood District—known as Black Wall Street—leading to hundreds of the neighborhood’s Black residents being killed and many others injured or displaced.

The block party celebrated Juneteenth, which marked the date in 1865 when Union soldiers informed slaves in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over and they were freed, two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was supposed to have done so.

Westbrook was a virtual participant in the Juneteenth block party in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports discussed the inspiration for it:

Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes

City of Tulsa – along with Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook – will now host a global Juneteenth Block Party virtually as well as on-the-ground on June 20 during Donald Trump’s rally in the city that day. It’s an effort to reclaim airwaves, keep focus of weekend on freedom.

Other guests included United States Senator Kamala Harris and former United States attorney general Eric Holder.

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