Congressional Resolution Remembers Trailblazing Celtics Champion And Civil Rights Icon Bill Russell

A trailblazer on and off the court, Bill Russell was a civil rights champion
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Friday, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) led her colleagues the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation in introducing a House resolution honoring Boston Celtics legend William “Bill” Felton Russell. Rep. Pressley joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in unveiling the Senate companion resolution last month.

As a Boston City Councilor, Rep. Pressley led a resolution with Councilor John Connolly urging the City of Boston to commission the statue of Bill Russell that currently stands outside of Boston City Hall. The full text of their city council resolution is available here.

“Bill Russell was an undisputed champion both on the court and off, and he was an unapologetic advocate for a more just and equitable world. But most importantly, he was a man with a family and beloved community,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Congressional intent is powerful, and a resolution is a statement of Congress’ appreciation for Bill Russell’s endless contributions throughout his lifetime. I give my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. May he rest in peace and power.”

“Bill Russell’s legacy as a leader, role model, and civil rights icon cannot be overstated,” said Congressman James P. McGovern. “On the court, he was the greatest winner in American team sports history, but his courage and conviction off the court are really what sets him apart. In Massachusetts and across the country, he was never afraid to stand up for what’s right in the face of criticism and threats of violence, and there’s no doubt in my mind our world is a better and more equitable place for it."

“I was fortunate to grow up during Bill Russell’s amazing career as an eleven-time Celtics champion, both as a player and later a coach,” said Rep. Stephen F. Lynch. “He was a trailblazer in the NBA and lifelong champion for civil rights, and his life’s work and noble example will serve as a guide for generations to come.”

“A trailblazer on and off the court, Bill Russell was a civil rights champion whose impact can be felt far beyond Massachusetts,” said Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. “A talented, kind, and courageous man, Russell persevered through an era of intense racism and abuse and succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. It’s an honor to join my colleagues in marking his legacy and commemorating the life of a man who will be deeply missed.”

“Bill Russell was an inspiration on and off the court. He was an unparalleled competitor who won every big game he played in. He was also a champion for justice. I am honored to join my colleagues to honor the life of a great American,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss.

“Bill Russell stands alone as the greatest champion in the history of team sports. He was a remarkable 21-0 in winner take all games, and my personal favorite athlete of all time. But what sets him apart from everyone else was his lifetime of activism for civil rights,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “Bill Russell never cowered from speaking up for what was right and just, and his legacy is so much more than that of a Celtics’ legend – his legacy is that of a giant who never cowered from risking it all to make our world a better place.”