Magic Johnson talks ‘advancing the dream’ of MLK and defends gay son

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A distinguished roster of celebrities including Magic Johnson, Tyler Perry, Cory Booker, Lisa Price and Stevie Wonder joined Reverend Al Sharpton and MSNBC Friday for the live broadcast of Advancing the Dream: Live from The Apollo.

The two-hour broadcast included candid interviews with a diverse group of successful newsmakers celebrating their triumphs and discussing how to advance the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

During a red carpet interview with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, basketball legend Magic Johnson talked about what he’s doing to advance the dream of MLK.

“If you look on 125th right down the street there’s a Magic Johnson theater,” he said. “If you go this way I’ve got a Starbucks. All the things that I’ve been doing for 30 years, that’s how I’ve been really carrying on Dr. King’s legacy, and what he was preaching and marching about all those years.”

Johnson says that the big issues affecting the African-American community are jobs and creating opportunity within urban areas, but also emphasized gay rights and marriage equality as current key civil rights issues.

“I’m fighting for those who should have the right to marry who they want, and be the person that they want to be, because we have all different types of African-Americans around this country. Some are gay, some are heterosexual and you should have the right to be who you want to be, and [marry] who you want to marry.”

Johnson’s 20-year-old son, Earvin Johnson III, came out of the closet earlier this year after TMZ revealed that he’s gay. EJ said that the public reaction to him coming out ranged from support to criticism, including online postings involving “nasty things about me and what I’m doing.”

Johnson says that regardless of what critics have to say, he and his wife support their son.

“I don’t care about the backlash, if somebody doesn’t agree, that’s just tough on them. I’m gonna love my son until the end. He has a right to decide who he wants to be, who he wants to date, and who he wants to marry, and he has decided that that’s a man, and that’s okay by us.”

“I just hope that we understand that if our son or daughters decides to be gay, we should support them, and then let’s get on with the issues that are affecting our community in a big way.”

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter for more Entertainment news at @WitherspoonC