Atlanta Hawks pay tribute to MLK with new uniforms

The Atlanta Hawks are based in MLK's hometown and paid homage to the civil rights leader with their latest uniform designs

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The Atlanta Hawks don’t want to talk about it, they want to be about it. The team announced this week that they would be wearing a uniform option in memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an Atlanta native, during the next NBA season (whenever that will be.)

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The Hawks revealed the new uniforms, called the MLK City Edition last Sunday, People.com reported. The uniforms, done in partnership with the King Estate Foundation, the NBA, the NBPA, and Nike, will be worn at select games during the season, the team said on its website. When they are worn, the team will also roll out a specially painted floor in conjunction with the uniforms.

“During this challenging climate, it is our hope that this visual reminder of Dr. King’s legacy will inspire people to further educate themselves on how he [affected] change using his philosophy and methods of nonviolence during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s,” Eric D. Tidwell, Esq., manager of King’s estate, said in a statement.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Hawks to perpetuate his wonderful legacy,” he added.

Though this summer raised the bar on race issues in America, the uniforms were being worked on for the last three years, the AJC reports. King is the first individual to be honored with an NBA jersey in this way. Profits from the merchandising sales of the unis will be donated to organizations in Atlanta that benefit communities of color, says the team.

“No one could have ever anticipated that the world, that we would be in the current state, as we are, as a country, and so we really thought that we’re obviously going to be unveiling it as we have our City Edition, but the sentiment of the uniform is at a completely different level than we could have ever anticipated at the time of development,” the Hawks’ chief marketing officer, Melissa Proctor, told the AJC.

And the black and gold uniforms were specially crafted to represent King. The Black and gold colorway represents King’s membership in Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s oldest Black Greek-letter fraternity. A crown and shield symbol on the shorts represents King’s personal effects and church windows and his signature is embroidered on the jersey.

“Now more than ever since his untimely passing, the eyes and ears of the world are focused on the evolution of social justice, poised to elevate Dr. King’s vision from an aspiration to a universal reality of equality and dignity for all races,” the Hawks posted on the team’s website.

“The tenets of Dr. King’s social activism are the roots from which the Atlanta Hawks community work grows — crucial issues such as, Diversity, Inclusion, Voting Rights, and Economic Empowerment. We are building bridges through basketball to better the world around us. We vow to work, to fight, to take action… to earn these letters every day!”

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Though the team planned to debut the uniforms on MLK Day, Jan.18 of 2021, no one yet knows when the next NBA season will start. League commissioner Adam Silver, according to multiple reports, doesn’t anticipate the next season will start before January of 2021.

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