African American History Black History Month

Feb 9: Eric Gardner and LeBron James

by Dakota Graham

Lebron James & Kyrie Irving wearing warmups in support of Garner.

For this project, I decided to focus on how LeBron James, the NBA super star, honored Eric Garner, an African American man. Eric Garner was a man who lived in Staten Island, New York. On July 17, 2014, he was going about his everyday life selling cigarettes when NYPD Officers started a conflict. They accused Garner of selling cigarettes without tax stamps. Garner asked the officers to stop harassing him and to let him be. After that, officers attacked him for allegedly not cooperating with them. Eric Garner was then placed in a choke hold by Officer Pantaleo. While in the choke hold, on the ground gasping for air, Garner repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe.” From there on, an ambulance was called and Garner was taken to the hospital. He was announced dead later that day. Officer Pantaleo ended up not being accused for this crime.

I think that it is inspirational when famous athletes stand up for what they believe in because it lets their followers know that they are allowed to stand up for what they think is right too.

These actions caught the attention of LeBron James. On December 8, 2014, James and Kyrie Irving, another NBA player, wore warmup shirts before their game that said, “I can’t breathe,” in honor of Eric Garner. They both wanted to show their support. Lebron James specifically wanted to support Garner and his family. In the postgame interview that night Lebron stated, “This is more of a motion to the family more than anything. As a society, we have to do better. We have to be better for one another, no matter what race you are. But it’s more of a shotout to the family more than anything. They’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort,” (TIME Magazine). I think what happened to Eric Garner was wrong and what Lebron James and a few others did was a great way to show their respect and support in honor of what happened.


I thought that this case of LeBron James was interesting because I love when famous athletes get involved with the community, show their support, and demonstrate what they stand for. The thing that interested me the most about this topic was how doing something as simple as wearing a shirt to honor someone can go a very long way and shows respect. I think that it is inspirational when famous athletes stand up for what they believe in because it lets their followers know that they are allowed to stand up for what they think is right too. Famous athletes inspire people to accomplish things they never thought they could do.

I also thought that this topic was important because it shows that this kind of treatment toward African Americans is unfair, unjust, and not right. This sad case that happened with Eric Garner relates to Black History Month because these kinds of actions and treatment towards African Americas should never go unnoticed. Everyone is equal in my eyes and there is no reason why African Americans should be discriminated against.

The month of February is a time we take to honor, respect, and reflect upon on all African Americans. The meaning of Black History Month is deeper than just recognizing someone, but rather reflecting upon how they still impact our world today. The topic of Eric Garner relates to the meanings of Black History Month because Garner should never be forgotten. What happened to him should never happen to anyone. There are still too many other scenarios like what happened to Eric Garner present in our societies today. These kinds of actions need to be stopped. Also, the way that LeBron James honored Garner depicts the meaning of February because LeBron knew the actions taken toward Garner were wrong and LeBron wanted to take a stand for what he believes in. If more people took the time to really honor Black History Month and learn what it is about, perhaps there would be less discrimination and violence toward African Americans today. Overall, I truly did enjoy researching this topic and hope that this upcoming February can honor and impact many lives.