NBA legend to make keynote speech at ALA President's Program

Contact: Steve Zalusky

Communications Manager, ALA Public Information Office


For Immediate Release,

November 6, 2007

NBA legend to make keynote speech at ALA President’s Program

CHICAGO – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a prolific author, will be the keynote speaker for the President’s Program at the American Library Association’s 2008 Midwinter Meeting, held Jan.11-14 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The President’s Program is an annual event at the Midwinter Meeting. It features speakers selected personally by the ALA president.

Abdul-Jabbar was chosen by American Library Association (ALA) President Loriene Roy to deliver the address on Sunday, Jan. 13. He is expected to talk about the Harlem Renaissance’s impact on his life. Abdul-Jabbar, who was born in Harlem in 1947, wrote the book, “On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance.

During the conference, he will sign copies of the new audio version of the book, which profiles the achievements of the Harlem Renaissance. Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s was an incubator for a number of great artists, musicians, authors and thinkers, including James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and Duke Ellington. Their influence on Abdul-Jabbar’s life is shown in such chapters as “How Harlem Writers Influenced My Life.”

The master of the sky hook, the 7-foot-2-inch Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three consecutive NCAA titles and the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers to six NBA championships.

But Abdul-Jabbar’s achievements go far beyond the court. He has written six books, including: "Giant Steps"; "Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement"; "A Season on a Reservation: My Sojourn with the White Mountain Apache"; and "Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII's Forgotten Heroes." Four of his books reached bestseller lists. Abdul-Jabbar prides himself on his literary achievements. "I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop," he said. "My biggest resource is my mind."

This will be Abdul-Jabbar’s first appearance at an ALA event. Abdul-Jabbar met Loriene Roy through Michele Reid, director of the library at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., which bestowed him with an honorary doctorate.

"We're honored to have Dr. Abdul-Jabbar join us at our Midwinter meeting," Roy said. "I am especially thankful for his commitment to scholarship, education, and wellness and his work coaching high school basketball at a tribal school."

Abdul-Jabbar taught basketball and history to American Indian children at Alchesay High School, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Ariz.

For more information about Abdul-Jabbar and the audio book, go to