The Wizards are celebrating African American Heritage Night on February 22, 2013 to celebrate Black History Month and the African American community, highlighting the importance of positive role modeling. Corporate partners and individual donors are providing tickets to predominately populated African- American athletic, school, mentoring, and non-profit youth groups.
The event will take place starting at 6pm in the Dewar’s Clubhouse with a pre-game panel, then in-game recognitions, and on-court post-game photos to capture the memory from the Night.
Pre-game Panel: Monumental Leaps: The Significance of African Americans in Basketball
This will be a discussion on the past, present, and future of African Americans in the NBA The panel will be moderated by Claude Johnson (Founder & CEO of Blackfives.com) and feature David Aldridge, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Wizards/Bullets Alumni Association member Bob Dandridge.
Claude Johnson is an author, historian, writer, and entrepreneur, as well as the founder and executive director of the not-for-profit Black Fives Foundation, whose mission is to use the pre-1950 history of African-American basketball teams to help teach life lessons while honoring its pioneers and their descendants. Recently, through his foundation, the Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY) permanently installed Johnson's compilation of historical photographic images of African American basketball pioneers throughout its arena concourse.
He was born in Vienna, Austria -- his father is African American, from the South Side of Chicago, and his mother was German, from the Römerstadt section of Frankfurt am Main -- and lived in the Republic of the Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) before moving to the USA with his parents at age six, where he attended public schools outside Boston and in Cincinnati.
During a 20-year career in corporate America, Johnson has held management and executive positions at IBM, American Express, NBA Properties, Nike, Phat Farm, and Benetton Sportsystem. He has a BS in Civil Engineering and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.
Johnson is the author of "Black Fives: The Alpha Physical Culture Club," the history of a pioneering early 20th century all-black basketball team, and is working on his second book. A regular columnist in the Greenwich (CT) Post, he also has been published in SLAM Magazine, Bounce Magazine, and on BlackFives.com. Editorial coverage of Johnson includes the Brian Lehrer Show, New York Times, Daily News, Newsday, The Root, NPR, Sirius, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, and ESPN. He is a former trustee of the Greenwich Public Library, a former candidate for the Connecticut State House of Representatives, a hobby photographer, and a volunteer youth football coach.
Johnson lives with his wife and their three boys in Greenwich, Connecticut.
- David Aldridge serves as the NBA Insider for NBA TV, NBA.com and TNT where he gives updates on the latest league news, rumors and inside information. Aldridge appears each week on NBA TV’s The Beat, a show that covers news and storylines from around the NBA, with NBA beat writers and reporters serving as regular guests. He also writes for NBA.com, including his popular column The Morning Tip which posts each Monday on the site.
- Since 2004, Aldridge has appeared on TNT’s NBA coverage, making select appearances on the network’s Inside the NBA studio show and serving as a sideline reporter at games. He also contributes updates, news and features from around the league.
- Aldridge has served as a field reporter for the network’s exclusive coverage of the MLB Division Series since 2007.
- Aldridge is a former columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer where he covered the NBA and NFL for five years.
- Prior to signing on with Turner Sports, Aldridge spent eight years with ESPN reporting on the NBA and writing for ESPN.com.
- Previously, Aldridge spent nine years with the Washington Post as a beat writer covering Georgetown University basketball, the Washington Bullets and the Washington Redskins. He covered numerous other sporting events as well, including the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the World Series, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Indianapolis 500 and the U.S. Open tennis championships.
- In 2002 Aldridge received the Sam Lacy Award as Journalist of the Year from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
- Aldridge is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Georgetown University sociology professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is one of the most remarkable figures of our times. His rise from humble roots in Detroit to his present perch as a world class intellectual, noted author of 18 books, prominent leader and media fixture testify to his indomitable will and his extraordinary talent. Dyson has also taught at other elite universities like Brown and Chapel Hill, and Columbia and Penn.
Dr. Dyson has won many prestigious honors, from an American Book Award to the NAACP Image Award for which he was nominated five times, taking home the celebrated trophy twice. As a budding icon in pop culture, Dyson has appeared as himself on the television series "Soul Food" and "The Game," popped up in the cartoon strip "The Boondocks," and been name checked on rap CDs from hip hop legends KRS-1, Black Thought and Nas.
Dyson is revered by younger generations for his prodigious intellect and his swagger in connecting to their experiences, and he is respected by millions of Americans as an inspiring spokesman for social change. That's whyEbony magazine cited him as one of the 100 most influential African Americans, and as one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation.
Dyson's influence has spread far beyond the academy in his roles of social activist, renowned orator, highly sought after lecturer, and ordained Baptist minister and prophetic preacher. Dyson's work, and his love of the vulnerable, have led him from meeting with the president in the Oval office of the White House to meeting with prisoners incarcerated across the land.
For the last quarter of a century, Dyson has also enlivened public debate across the media landscape on every major television and radio show in the country, fromThe Today Show to NPR's Talk of the Nation, from theTavis Smiley Show to Def Poetry Jam, from Meet the Pressto Face the Nation, and from Real Time with Bill Maher to the Colbert Report. He currently hosts The Michael Eric Dyson Show on public radio, and is a Political Analyst for MSNBC.
Dyson’s pioneering scholarship has had a profound affect on American ideas. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, was named one of the most important African American books of the 20th century and was also named a "Notable Book of the year"by the New York Times. According to book industry biblePublisher’s Weekly, Dyson’s 2001 book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, helped to make books on hip hop commercially viable.
And Dyson’s 2005 New York Times bestseller Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? helped to jump start a national conversation on the black poor. Dyson’s latest book is Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson's eloquent writing has earned him a spot as a contributing editor of Time magazine, and inspired Vanity Fair magazine to describe him as "one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today."
Dyson's legendary ascent – from welfare father to Princeton Ph.D., from church pastor to college professor, from a factory worker who didn’t start college until he was 21, to a figure who has become what writer Naomi Wolf terms “the ideal public intellectual of our time” – may help explain why author Nathan McCall simply calls Dyson “a street fighter in suit and tie."
Robert Dandridge (Bob) was born November 17, 1947 in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from Norfolk State University.
Dandridge was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the fourth round of the 1969 NBA draft. In 1970 Dandridge was named to the NBA all-rookie team. He was part of the team that won the NBA championship in 1971. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson were also on that team. Dandridge was traded to the Washington Bullets in 1977 and won a championship in 1978 with future hall-of-famers Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld.
Dandridge averaged18.5 points per game over 839 regular season games and 20 points per game in 98 playoff games and was a 4-time NBA all star. His dunk in Game 7 of the 1978 Finals sealed the Bullets championship victory.
Dandridge currently resides in Norfolk, Virginia. He serves as the Washington Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association Executive Director.