NASHVILLE – For the Lipscomb women’s basketball team, Monday is not an ordinary game day. With the contest being played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday, the team has taken the time to reflect on King’s impact and share their thoughts on what he means to them.
“The day represents having the ability to play the sport that I love with anybody and everybody,” junior Loshaveon Jones said. “Having the day off is great, but having the nation remember him and celebrate him is wonderful. It’s not just something for us that we celebrate, everyone celebrates it. And I think that’s amazing.”
Jones and fellow junior Auriana Broughton, both transfers suiting up for their first season in the Purple and Gold, each expressed thankfulness for the holiday.
“Some people just look at it as ‘finally we have an off day,’ but I wish that it was more of a celebration of him,” Broughton said. “I’m from Atlanta and back home they had this walk for him, and they have the Civil Rights Museum that has free tours on his holiday. I think if people were to do stuff like that on his holiday, it would be a good for the remembrance of him.”
Lipscomb assistant coach Natalie Jarrett offered a similarly thankful opinion of the day, but with the perspective of someone who’s immediate family traces outside of the United States to Jamaica.
“The day means a great deal to me and so many others,” Jarrett said. “It’s for so many other nationalizes and races, not just African-Americans. There’s a lot to be said for someone who stands up for an entire race.
“With the time that we’re in right now, I wish there was another MLK. It would be nice to see someone who could stand up and speak from a rational stand point. He stood for so many things, not just quote-unquote “black lives matter,” but equality for everyone and every race. He’s significant to me because he gave so many people an opportunity. He gave my ancestors, my mom and dad, my grandma and grandpa, he gave them all opportunities.”
The Lady Bisons opened the 2016-17 season with a road game against Loyola Maryland. While there, the team toured the sights of Washington D.C., including the MLK monument at the National Mall.
“Being from Jamaica, the American history is hard to realize until you’re there in front of a monument,” Jarrett said. “People tell you stories or you read about it, but it was an amazing feeling just being there and being able to take our players there.”
The visit impacted the players just as much as it did Jarrett and the rest of the coaching staff, as they came away from the trip with an even deeper appreciation of King and a few moments to remember.
“It was amazing,” Jones said. “It was something that I’ll never forget. My storage was full from that. I just kept taking pictures.”
“We were seeing historical figures all day, and then we went to his monument,” Broughton said. “There was a negative letter that was left at his monument. In my mind, I was thinking: he did so much, why leave something like this? The letter was basically negative toward the current generations, saying that we don’t appreciate what all he did. When I read that I was hurt because without him where are we today. I’m grateful for everything that he did for the nation. He was so selfless.”
As a history and political science major during his time in school, Lipscomb women’s basketball coach Greg Brown expressed that the day takes on many meanings for him.
“I think too often as Americans we look at these types of days as just days off,” Brown said. “Whether it’s MLK Day or Presidents’ Day, we don’t know the background or the history of our country and of its struggles.
As Brown was preparing to hand out copies of the famed “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” penned by King in April of 1963, to his players at the end of practice, he shared what he think the day gives everyone chance to do.
“The day is an opportunity for us, just as you saw in a lot of Old Testament times where they built altars and monuments, to celebrate and remember. It also gives us a platform to speak to our kids that, like any holiday, it’s not something that should be celebrated at once or remembered at once, but it’s something that should be ongoing in everyone’s life.”