Celtics transform anthem civil rights protests into a call for unity

This past Sunday, we covered the Celtics ongoing commitment to the struggle for civil rights, where Jae Crowder hinted at a shift in tactics to continue the conversation started by Colin Kaepernick, Carmelo Anthony, and others.

Last night, Jae and the rest of the team showed us what that shift would look like:

True to their roots, Boston took the building momentum among sports figures using their platform to aid that struggle to the court and web last night, brilliantly reframing a jarring (but necessary) start to this most recent iteration of a decades-long conversation as both a call to action and an issue of unity - ubuntu, you might say - crucial to achieving progress in solving the problems which have brought such protests to forefront.

The Celtics did not stop with the video, locking hands during the anthem as a symbol of unity that is hoped will move this vital discussion forward without dividing those it wishes to engage in not only dialogue, but concrete action to solve the issues that led to it in the first place. Having accepted the “baton”, as it were, we should look forward to more action from the Celts both on and off the court.

Basketball - and sports in general - are too frequently demoted to the status of “just a game”, which ignores the transformative power found in the unity advocated for by the Celtics. The synergy between players and fans transcends the event, cutting across radically different aspects of society, laying down a framework for earnest conversation on difficult issues that starts from a point of mutual respect that might not otherwise exist. We should be thankful for a team with the foresight to see such an opportunity, and lay the groundwork for such conversations (and hopefully action).

We would be remiss not to heed their request to join them at the table, and to listen as well as we talk at it.

Follow Justin at @justinquinnn