Bill Russell Deserves Great Honors … Instead He Gets the Medal of Freedom
“These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place,” Obama said. “I look forward to awarding them this honor.”
Some of the honorees include former President George H.W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, economist Warren Buffet, musician Yo-Yo Ma, and athletes Stan Musial and Bill Russell. A full list can be found here with a description of their accomplishments.
Now, my first thought was that one of the recipients receiving this honor was a good thing. William Felton “Bill” Russell was a phenomenal athlete who accomplished great things on the basketball court in a time when African-Americans were still openly oppressed by large swaths our society.
What he accomplished was beyond remarkable. Thirteen professional seasons with the Boston Celtics where he won 11 championships, 5 MVP awards, and was a 12-time all-star. All of those monumental accomplishments and he was still forced out of the hotels his white teammates stayed in.
Some may argue that he was not the best ambassador for tolerance and peace. They may say he was abrasive and reclusive and distrustful of the fans, journalists, and other players. Given the adversity he faced just because of the color of his skin, who could blame him?
Not knowing much about the Medal of Freedom, I viewed a list of all the prior recipients and I saw a name that instantly made me sad that this was something that he was being given.Continued on the next page