NBA Hall Of Famer Isiah Thomas Compares Civil Unrest In ’60s To Today

Jul 14, 2020, 12:12 PM | Updated: Apr 26, 2021, 3:23 pm
Former Detroit Piston Isiah Thomas take the floor for a halftime ceremony at the final NBA game at ...
Former Detroit Piston Isiah Thomas take the floor for a halftime ceremony at the final NBA game at the Palace of Auburn Hills between the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards on April 10, 2017 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Growing up on the west side of Chicago, NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas can compare the civil unrest from growing up in the ’60s to today.

President Kennedy was assassinated along with Malcom X and Fred Hampton assassinations in the ’60s. As a child, Thomas participated in the marches and rallies in Chicago and was a part of the riot in 1968.

He joined former Jazz great Thurl Bailey on the latest episode of “Thurl Talk.”

Weapon Pointed At Thomas

When participating in rallies and marches, Thomas recalled a time that he had a weapon pointed at him for the first time in his life.

“My mom didn’t have babysitters. We grew up extremely poor,” Thomas told Thurl Bailey. “So we participated in all the marches. We participated in all the rallies. The first time I had a weapon pointed at me was by the United States government. When they shut down Chicago and the National Guard came in, never forget, they rolled up off the Eisenhower Expressway and I lived 3340 West Congress, and a tank rode up off the Eisehower Expressway and the barrel of the tank rolled around and pointed directly at our house. Because they were shutting down the city. They were shutting down the west side of Chicago.”

He talked about what they were fighting for back then and it’s all similar to what is being fought for today.

“So what were we fighting for then? The same things that we’re still fighting for today,” Thomas said. “We’re fighting for equality in the system that is systemically set up to opress us and deny us of our birthright in terms of liberty, freedom, peace, love and justice.”

Government Changes

Thomas pointed out changes that were made in the ’60s with the judicial system and the United States government.

“I’m excited about this time because just like the ’60s when we were able to, even though everyone got assassinated, everyone got killed in terms of our leaders. Out of the ’60s, we did make some changes within the judicial system and within the United States government,” Thomas mentioned. “’65, the Voting Rights Act passed. ’64, I think it was the Fair Housing Act passed. So, in terms of desegregating and becoming a part of the the American system that we have been denied and still are denying, based on how much melanin you have in your skin, you’re classified as either black or white or people of color.”

Now, Thomas is excited about the future.

“What we all are truly fighting for is just to be Americans and not be labeled by a color. Whether you classify as white, black, brown,” Thomas stated. “The cast system that we’re living up under is a color coded cast system. Right now, we have people from all different colors coming out onto the street and marching and saying, ‘we need to end this systemic color coded casted racism that we are living under, in this country’ and I think it’s exciting right now.”

You can listen to the full interview with Thurl Bailey and Isiah Thomas, below.

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