The Howard men's basketball team at Mamatoto Village in northeast D.C. on Sunday, Jan. 15. (Daysia Clark/Howard University)
The Howard men's basketball team at Mamatoto Village in northeast D.C. on Sunday, Jan. 15. (Daysia Clark/Howard University)

Though he was a Morehouse man, Howard University hosted a memorable celebration in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The two-day celebration exemplified the values that the late civil rights leader espoused.

A professional panel of NBA players, including the Golden State Warriors’ Andre Iguodala, who is holding the microphone, speaks to Howard students as part of the Wizards/Warriors Networking Opportunity. (Jazmyn Hammons/Howard University)

Tackling Black Maternal Health

This year the Howard’s Men’s Basketball team was tasked with picking a social justice issue to tackle and the team chose to focus on Black maternal health. Throughout the past few months, the team has been dedicated to getting educated on the issue, which included learning about how Black women, in general, are negatively impacted by the American healthcare system, and particularly while pregnant. 

Black birthing mothers are dying at three to four times higher than the rate of their white counterparts. Noticing the crisis that is taking place is what drove the team to take a stand and partner with Mamatoto Village, an organization in D.C. dedicated to providing perinatal resources for families and offers training for aspiring Black maternal health care workers.

For their day of service, the team worked alongside the amazing staff at Mamatoto Village to pack pregnancy health and hygiene diaper bags, sorted infant-toddler clothing and so much more for expectant Black mothers. It was a proud moment for so many. The team embraced its platform and used it to raise awareness and give back to their community, truly upholding the standard that Howard has set in leading in truth and service. 

Working with Sports Professionals: Wizards and Warriors

On Monday, Jan. 16, there was a panel discussion geared toward Howard University communications students interested in pursuing careers in sports and athletics.

The second phase of the celebration involved the Washington Wizards and the world champion Golden State Warriors as they collaborated to invite 13 Howard University journalism students to participate in a Wizards/Warriors Networking Opportunity. The two teams played each other later in the afternoon following the session, where the Warriors beat the Wizards 127-118. 

The selected students were able to ask questions and learn from their wisdom and journey. The panelists shared advice on being versatile in the industry, not letting any barriers such as gender and race stop you, the importance of hard work, and much more. 

Following the panel, students were able to talk one on one with the panelists to establish networking opportunities for them in the industry. The Warriors also facilitated the students to attend the game at Capital One Arena. 

During the game, they were also able to witness the King celebration that included the activist’s family. 

Howard Defeats Morehouse 

Following the panel session on Monday, the Howard University men’s basketball team took on the Morehouse College team in Burr Gymnasium for the 5th Annual MLK, Jr. Classic. The previous participants were Harvard (twice), Yale and Notre Dame. This year was especially significant as, for the first time, it involved two HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

The much-anticipated event was well attended and featured a standing-room-only crowd and a number of entertainment personalities, journalists and professional athletes from the Wizards and Warriors who had played earlier that day. Among the attendees were Johnny Davis of the Wizards along with members of the Warriors, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Jordan Poole and Donte DiVincenzo. Rapper and social activist Mistah F.A.B performed at halftime with a message to HBCUs and the young generation from Dr. King and what he stood for.

As for the game, the Howard University team got a dazzling performance from sophomore guard Elijah Hawkins to defeat Morehouse 86-65. A local product of DeMatha and native Washingtonian, Hawkins, scored a team-high 15 points while grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six assists, many of the variety that had the overflow crowd out of their seats,

“You could feel the energy from this game when you walked into the gym,” said Hawkins, last year’s MEAC Rookie of the Year and a pre-season all-MEAC selection. “This whole experience has been something that you never forget as an athlete.”

Capping off the Celebrations: Rings, Scholarships, Panel

During the timeout breaks during the game, the Howard University golf team, which was funded by Golden State Warrior MVP Steph Curry, was presented with their championship rings.  The Bison football team was presented with their trophy for being co-champions of the MEAC this past season.

Yet still another feature of this two-day event was the presentation of two $2,500 scholarships to HU students.

The celebration was capped off by a professional sports panel, this time composed of members of both the teams along with members of the media or sports organization who were graduates of HBCU s as they discussed the status of HBCUs in sports and athletics.

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