Bill Russell cites Martin Luther King Jr. in call for Congressional action against Donald Trump: 'Good vs. evil'

Jason Owens
·3 min read

As the nation celebrates the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Russell invoked the civil rights icon Monday in a plea for action in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The NBA legend tweeted a message on MLK Day quoting King in a call for accountability for President Donald Trump for his role in inciting his supporters to march on the Capitol before they ransacked the building in an assault that claimed five lives.

Russell framed his message as a matter of “good vs. evil” and quoted a passage from a sermon King delivered in New York in 1956.

‘Good vs. evil’

Here’s fuller context from King’s sermon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

“But we need not stop with the glaring examples of the Bible to establish the reality of evil; we need only to look out into the wide arena of everyday life,” King said. “We have seen evil in tragic lust and inordinate selfishness. We have seen it in high places where men are willing to sacrifice truth on the altars of their self-interest.

“We have seen it in imperialistic nations trampling over other nations with the iron feet of oppression. We have seen it clothed in the garments of calamitous wars which left battlefields painted with blood, filled nations with widows and orphans, and sent men home physically handicapped and psychologically wrecked. We have seen evil in all of its tragic dimensions.”

Russell a longtime advocate of social, racial justice

An 11-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, Russell has long been a champion of civil rights. He famously worked alongside fellow athletes Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jim Brown at the 1967 Cleveland Summit that helped set the blueprint for Black athletes to harness their platforms to advance social causes.

He urged followers on Monday to contact their representatives in Congress to demand “that they hold Trump accountable for his actions.”

FILE - In this April 9, 2014, file photo, Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell takes part in the "Sports and Race: Leveling the Playing Field" panel during the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Texas. Russell has been released from a Seattle hospital after an overnight stay for an unknown condition. Russell confirmed on Twitter Saturday, May 19, 2018,  that he went to the hospital late Friday but does not say why. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett, File)
Bill Russell urged his followers to call on Congress to hold President Donald Trump accountable after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett, File)

Where Trump’s impeachment stands

The House of Representatives impeached Trump last week for a second time in the aftermath of the Capitol siege on a charge of “incitement of insurrection.” Trump fomented a baseless narrative that President-elect Joe Biden didn’t lawfully win November’s presidential election and convinced many of his followers that the election was rigged prior to the attack.

“He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government,” the impeachment article reads. “He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

The impeachment charge now goes to the Senate, which will presumably hold a trial sometime after Trump leaves office on Wednesday. The Senate could also vote to prevent Trump from holding federal office again.

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