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Loyola's Honors Program partners with the National Basketball Retired Players Association to celebrate 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act

Loyola press release - June 30, 2014

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the Loyola University New Orleans Honors Program and Elevate New Orleans—an academic, athletic and mentoring program where Loyola students serve as tutors for inner-city teens—are partnering with the National Basketball Retired Players Association on a limited-edition print of Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” signed by more than 50 former NBA players.

The letter, written April 16, 1963, is one of the most celebrated explanations of civil rights activism in U.S. history. It not only defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, but also argues that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws.

NBA players who signed the reproduction of the historic letter include, Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Members Rick Barry, Jim Calhoun, Dave Cowens, Alex English, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore and Moses Malone. Proceeds from the prints—which are available as a gift, limit one per patron, for tax-deductible donations of $100—will help fund the National Basketball Retired Players Association grassroots programming designed to positively impact communities through basketball and will also help fund the Loyola Honors Program tutoring of inner-city student athletes enrolled in the Elevate program. For more information, contact Paul Corliss at 917-621-5744.

Loyola, in fact, has many other ties to the civil rights movement, including former Loyola professor and activist, the late Louis J. Twomey, S.J. At Loyola he lectured on ethics and jurisprudence in the College of Law and won many converts to his unpopular (at the time) doctrines on racial equality, the rights of the working man and international justice. Twomey was involved in the Freedom March in New Orleans Sept. 30, 1963. One photo from the march shows Twomey shaking hands with a young Dutch Morial, who later became the first African-American mayor of New Orleans.

In the 1950s Twomey began to publish a monthly newsletter, “Christ's Blueprint for the South,” and this increased his influence with Jesuits all over the world and among priests and seminarians. He was also a trusted collaborator of Archbishop Joseph Rummel in the latter's effort to desegregate the schools and institutions of the archdiocese. Twomey was also called to Rome in the 1960s to aid Pedro Arrupe, S.J., former superior general of the Society of Jesus, in drawing up his letter on racism issued in 1967.

Please contact Mikel Pak, associate director of public affairs, for media interviews or high-resolution photos at 504-861-5448.

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LoyNews is an e-newswire produced by the Loyola University New Orleans Office of Public Affairs. LoyNews is distributed weekly to local, regional and national news media outlets, communicating the latest news and accomplishments of the university and its community.

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