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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cameron Tabatabaie

Jaylen Brown on partnership between the NBA and HBCUs: ‘I think that’s a high point for the NBA’

Wednesday evening the Boston Celtics held the team’s first “HBCU Night” at TD Garden to honor the work done by historically black colleges and universities, a group of higher education institutions around the country serving predominantly black and brown students. The Celtics highlighted individuals and groups from schools from across the country with all sorts of celebrations and honorifics throughout the evening, a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The club also paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before game. The Celtics donned warmups honoring MLK, while Grant Williams spoke to the crowd prior to tipoff about the life and legacy of Dr. King. A new statue honoring King and his wife Coretta will soon be unveiled in the city’s Boston Common.

Following the action, Celtics Wire asked Jaylen Brown about the night and the important role HBCUs play in promoting equity in American higher education.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 11: Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics is announced before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at TD Garden on January 11, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

“I think this is a great partnership,” Brown said after the game. “To see HBCUs and to get some light shined on them and what they do traditionally, I would like to continue to see that.”

The first HBCUs were founded shortly after the Civil War and served as critical institutions as much of the country practiced strict racial segregation in higher education and elsewhere in public life. HBCUs allowed for educational opportunities in the face of severe prejudice, and have helped support middle-class and professional aspirations for Black Americans to this day.

Brown’s own relationship with HBCUs extends beyond Wednesday. Brown, who has long been an advocate for higher education and works with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, said last year he hopes to elevate HBCUs with his work. He has actively included schools like Clark and Morehouse in his roster of speaking partnerships.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time at HBCUs,” Brown said. “I’ve done lectures, I did lectures at Morehouse and at Clark and developed relationships with those two HBCUs in my hometown of Atlanta.”

“If any other HBCUs have any interest, maybe this summer would be a great time,” Brown added.

The NBA will host an HBCU showcase during All-Star weekend between Southern University and Grambling State. The Celtics organization has been partners in the NBA’s HBCU Fellowship Program prior to tonight’s events. This program looks to connect HBCU students with career opportunities within the business side of basketball.

“I think that’s a high point for the NBA, for the union to continue to get historically black colleges involved.” Brown said.

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