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First African-American NBA Player, Headlining Painter and Civil Right Activist Among Honorees

ATLANTA, GA ----- During all February home games, the Atlanta Hawks will be honoring influential African-Americans who have made significant contributions to a variety of industries as part of this year’s celebration of Black History Month.  Beginning with the Hawks – Grizzlies game on Thursday, February 2, the Hawks will honor individuals who are each uniquely different in their contributions and unanimously impactful.

The first of seven honorees will be Gabrielle Moore, who at the age 16 founded her company Bears for Babies, a program that provides teddy bears to children who have lost a parent. Moore was inspired by the loss of her own father in 2000. The freshman at Spelman College has already provided 200 children with their own, personalized bear.  Moore has been named an Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hero, one of 20 under 20 by Atlanta Intown and 21st Century Leaders.  She was also recognized as one of 11 Alive and Junior League’s “Kids Who Care.”

On February 4, vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, the Hawks will recognize Jean Douglas, the executive director for the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. The organization, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, serves more than 13,000 women and their children every year. Douglas has served as executive director for the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence since 1996 and has become a leader in the subjects of domestic violence and women’s issues.  Douglas has also served on the Boards of Directors of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and as a member of the DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force.  Most recently, she was selected as one of 52 members for Leadership DeKalb’s Class of 2012 to complete a 10-month training program, educating the leaders about issues facing the community.

During the Hawks game on February 6 vs. Phoenix Sun’s, the Hawks will recognize Monique Rivarde, creator of BFAM. Three weeks after losing her 18 year-old son, Bobby Tilman, at the hands of random violence, Rivarde created  BFAM to nurture the spirits of youth and promote peace, love, respect and self-worth. Under Rivarde’s leadership, BFAM helps educate youth and adults about the effects of teen violence and bullying to help reduce violence among young people and promotes the Bobby Tillman Pact for Non-Violence.

World renowned artist Radcliffe Bailey will be introduced on February 8 during the Hawks game against the Indiana Pacers. Bailey’s recent exhibition “Radcliffe Bailey: Memory as Medicine,” at the High Museum of Art was the first headline exhibition to feature an Atlanta-based artist in the museum’s main gallery. Developing a love for the arts at an early age, Bailey’s work takes influence from topics ranging from the TransAtlantic Crossing to jazz music and baseball.  Many of his paintings use indigo; iconic images such as numbers, water, ships; and heirloom family portraits as the centerpieces. Currently, Bailey’s work is collected by nearly 25 museums around the world including the High Museum of Art, The Smithsonian, The Corcoran and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the coming months, Bailey’s work will be featured in a rotating exhibition at The Residences at W Atlanta – Downtown while “Memory as Medicine” will be exhibited at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College and The McNay in San Antonio, TX.

On Halloween 1950, Earl “Big Cat” Lloyd made history by becoming the first African-American to play in the NBA. On February 12, the Hawks will welcome Earl Lloyd during their home game against the Miami Heat. Lloyd played seven games before being drafted into the Army. The Washington Capitols folded while he was away and he joined the Syracuse Nationals upon his return, helping to lead them to an NBA Championship. In 1960, at the age of 32, Lloyd retired as a member of the Detroit Pistons. He spent the next decade as a scout and assistant coach for the team, and in 1971, stepped into the history books again by becoming the first African-American coach of the Pistons and the second black NBA head coach.  Lloyd published his autobiography “Moonfixer” in 2009. For helping break the color barrier and for having an outstanding playing and coaching career, Lloyd was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

The February 23 game against the Orlando Magic will see the Hawks honor Reverend Joseph Lowery. At 90 years old, Rev. Joseph Lowery is a civil rights icon who helped push the country past the days of segregation. Rev. Lowery was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., and served as its president from 1977 to 1997. This distinguished leader and respected Methodist minister participated in all of the civil rights battles of his day, including the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, the Selma-to-Montgomery March that led to the Voting Rights Act and the famous 1963 March on Washington.  In 2009, Rev. Lowery gave the Benediction at the Inauguration of President Obama. President Obama also awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his lifelong commitment to nonviolent human rights advocacy.

The final tribute during the Hawks Black History Month celebration will highlight the achievements of Milton Little, Jr. during the Golden State Warrior game on February 29. Little was named the first African-American president of United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta in 2007. Since he has been president, nearly 17,000 Georgia families have received emergency financial assistance, totaling $20.5 million through the Georgia Fresh Start initiative.  More than 1,400 clients have participated in United Way’s Street to Home program, administered through the organization’s Regional Commission on Homelessness. Milton is heavily involved in the programming, often going on outreaches himself. He says:  “It’s not enough for me to witness community action through an office window.  Getting involved on a personal level to help families and communities thrive is very important to me and this organization.”