The Memphis Grizzlies recently unveiled their jerseys for the 2016-17 season and the tragedy woven into it is heartbreaking and powerful. Working with the National Civil Rights Museum and Adidas, the “MLK50” Pride uniform was designed in remembrance of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and will make its debut in January 2017 during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration game against the Chicago Bulls.
The design drew inspiration from the Lorraine Motel, the fateful location where MLK was assassinated in April of 1968. The jerseys serve to bring awareness to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and will hopefully be the driving force to bring a more profound understanding of the history of the social justice movement that characterized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In a statement, Grizzlies President of Business Operations, Jason Wexler, said:
“We’re deeply honored to work with our longstanding partners at the National Civil Rights Museum to help them launch the commemorations building towards the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. The MLK50 Pride uniform to be worn for the first time on January 15th during our annual weekend Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration is a means of both furthering our partnership with the National Civil Rights Museum and creating awareness of the Museum’s vital message of social and economic justice in our city, our nation and the world.”
Each aspect of the jerseys pays respect to Dr. King and the Civil Rights marchers who were the driving force of the movement. The black uniform color is reminiscent of the dark suits worn by the marchers, while the sea foam color, piping, and Memphis woodmark are nods to the colors, railing, and typography of the Lorraine Motel, respectively. The jersey design also features a wreath on the neckline, which represents the wreath that hangs where MLK was assassinated and serves as a reminder of the sacrifice that he made for social justice and equality.
Terri Lee Freeman, the National Civil Rights Museum President, said this:
“When the idea first came about of creating a jersey, I was so excited about it because I could see the potential for something like this. As we created it, we wanted it to have a level of integrity, so we included the wreath and included the railing and the sign. I think it has come out as a wonderful product, and think it will be great for the Grizzlies and the National Civil Rights Museum, but also messaging that we need to always remember what happened and not forget about the work that has yet to be done. That’s exactly what the Museum does.”
Watch the unveiling of the jersey here.