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Atlanta Hawks pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with new alternate uniforms

The Atlanta Hawks on Sunday unveiled new uniforms honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the NBA's City Edition uniforms. The civil rights leader was born and raised in the Georgia capital.

The jerseys have "MLK" emblazoned on the front where the word Hawks would normally be, and the black, gold and white colors are a nod to King's membership in Alpha Phi Alpha the first Black intercollegiate Greek-lettered fraternity. His signature is featured at the bottom of the jersey. The shorts have stars on either side, which represent 22 of the 29 times King was arrested for fighting for justice and equality, the Hawks said.

"Now more than ever since his untimely passing, the eyes and ears of the world are focused on the evolution of social justice, poised to elevate Dr. King's vision from an aspiration to a universal reality of equality and dignity for all races," the Hawks' website said. 

"The tenets of Dr. King's social activism are the roots from which the Atlanta Hawks community work grows - crucial issues such as, Diversity, Inclusion, Voting Rights, and Economic Empowerment. We are building bridges through basketball to better the world around us. We vow to work, to fight, to take action…to earn these letters every day!" 

Hawks Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Proctor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the City Edition uniforms will be used at select games that highlight King and people making a difference in Atlanta. According to Proctor, the jersey has been in the making for nearly three years with the help of King's estate.

Proceeds from the sale of the jersey will support economic empowerment programs for Atlanta's communities of color. The team also encouraged fans make "positive change" in their communities, such as serving as poll workers, working with an organization dedicated to racial equality and coaching a youth sports team. 

Hawks star Trae Young, who is active in the community, modeled the new uniform on Twitter and, in a separate tweet, told followers to "EARN THESE LETTERS." 

The 2020 NBA finals are currently ongoing as a result of the season being temporarily halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league has not yet released the schedule for next season.  

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