EXCLUSIVE: Karl Anthony Towns Reflects on Being Named NBA’s 2024 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion

The people love a “champ”—especially one with a social justice focus!

Minnesota Timberwolves center/forward and EBONY’s July/August 2021 cover star Karl Anthony Towns has been named this year’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion. Recipients of this prestigious award are honored for their commitment to social activism while dominating the basketball court. Past recipients of this award include Steph Curry, Reggie Bullock and Carmelo Anthony, who received the inaugural award for the 2020-2021 season.

“I’m honored and grateful to be associated with this award that will recognize the dedicated and selfless people fighting to promote social justice for all marginalized people,” said Abdul-Jabbar in a quote shared by EBONY in 2021. “To me, it’s another giant step in the right direction for the country and all people who value equality.”

After being a finalist for the award during the year of its inception for his outspoken work following the murder of George Floyd, KAT was selected this year for his fervent commitment to civic engagement. In the 18 months, his advocacy was one of the driving forces behind the passage of House File 28 (Bill H.F. 28) known as the “Restore the Vote” bill. This groundbreaking bipartisan legislation restores the right of formerly incarcerated individuals to vote within the state. 

“Being the recipient of the Kareem Abdul-Jabar Social Justice Champion award is one of my proudest moments.”

Karl Anthony Towns

karl anthony towns
Karl Anthony Towns for EBONY’s July/August 2021 cover. Image: Keith Major for EBONY.

Townes is involved in numerous endeavors that aim to secure voting right access, educational equity, and other justice reform initiatives, such as partnering for community-centered dialogue with the nonprofit organization All Square. He also produced and co-funded a documentary called Forgiving Johnny, which highlights the role that digital resources can play when maximized fully in legal system reform efforts. Furthermore, Towns has blended support to other endeavors and causes that are in need of increased visibility, from being vocal about the detriment of banning books to providing financial support for Ava DuVernay’s recent work Origin.

KAT tells EBONY exclusively what being selected for this achievement this year means to him. “Being the recipient of the Kareem Abdul-Jabar Social Justice Champion award is one of my proudest moments,” said Towns. “I will always fight for social justice, equality and change.”

In such a crucial election year and when humanitarianism is most necessary, it is important for figures like Towns to step up and be examples of social change.

Along with the honor of being named the 2024 Kareen Abdul Jabbar Social Justice Champion, Townes will be able to bestow $100,000 upon a beneficiary of his choice.

Updated: May 9, 2024 — 3:01 pm