June 15, 2021
State Superintendent Thurmond Names Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, and Karen Korematsu to Serve as California's Education Ambassadors
SACRAMENTO—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, and Dr. Karen Korematsu are living icons who have made significant contributions to culture and society with work and messages that transcend divisions of race, gender, and other social and political constructs and inspire us with universal lessons that can take us in new directions with their talent and impact.
Today, these significant figures received special recognition as Ambassadors to California Education by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond for demonstrating outstanding dedication and contributions to support the education of California’s students. Abdul-Jabbar was honored for leading efforts to boost after-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities for California's students. Huerta and Korematsu received the recognition for being key voices in the development of California’s new Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which provides guidance to assist local high schools in developing ethnic studies courses, which are classes that research shows can improve graduation and college-going rates among all students—and especially teens of color.
“Extraordinary models of social justice inspire us to do better and be better. There are few that rival the inspiration of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, and Karen Korematsu. Each are standard bearers in their own right and have held up a torch to tirelessly lead the way to better educational opportunities for all of California’s students,” Thurmond said.
Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center is famous for his indefensible “skyhook” and dominating the NBA for 20 years. But as Abdul-Jabbar himself says,“I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop; my greatest asset is my mind.”And indeed, he can. He is also a New York Times best-selling author; a recipient of the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama; and is the founder of the Skyhook Foundation. The Skyhook Foundation’s mission is to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked” by bringing educational STEM opportunities to underserved communities. To learn more about Abdul-Jabbar, the Skyhook Foundation, and its programs, please refer to the Skyhook Foundation website .
Dolores Huerta earned her teaching credential over six decades ago and, at age 91, continues to educate, organize, and work on behalf of those most directly impacted by injustice. Most recently, the Dolores Huerta Foundation has provided education and outreach to stop the spread of COVID-19 and motivate individuals to get vaccinated. The foundation has distributed thousands of pounds of non-perishable food to those in need and directed $250,000 in financial assistance to community members in need during the pandemic. Huerta is a recipient of the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama. Last month, she received an honorary doctorate from Yale University, where she said that: “A formal education obligates one to serve workers and create a world of justice.” To learn more about Dolores Huerta, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and its programs, please refer to the Dolores Huerta Foundation website .Fred T. Korematsu Institute website .
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100