The recent conversation between the NBA’s recently banished Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and CNN’s Anderson Cooper was filled with plenty of cringe-worthy moments. During the interview, Sterling made multiple attempts to discredit the work of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his contributions of to the African American community. He also criticized him (falsely) for having AIDS and accused the former basketball superstar and current businessman of sexual promiscuity.
Cooper promptly corrected Sterling, clarifying that to his knowledge Johnson has HIV and has not developed the AIDS virus, and commented after the interview that although he cannot comment on Johnson’s personal life, it is well-documented that his charitable works in and around the Los Angeles community are vast.
Cooper later tweeted, and Johnson’s Foundation retweeted:
Fact: @MagicJohnson has raised tremendous amounts of money for HIV/aids awareness, education, under served communities.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) May 13, 2014
Magic Johnson also spoke with Cooper in response to Sterling’s opinions on African-Americans aiding one another.
“He didn’t do his homework,” he said. “We help each other, and what we try to do is ban together to see how we can better our community.”
So, for anyone curious or perhaps unaware of Johnson’s past, here is a brief listing of a handful of ways that The Magic Johnson Foundation (MJF) has impacted society since its inception in 1991.
1. Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program: The MJF began the Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program (TMSP) in 1998. The program is named in honor of Taylor Michaels, former Chief Operating Officer for Magic Johnson Enterprises who passed away during that year. Michaels was known for her passion and dedication to improving the lives of young people. Annually, roughly 30 students who excel academically yet are limited by their financial situation are chosen as a TMSP scholar.
The awardees not only receive monetary assistance in $2,000-$5,000 annual tuition assistance, renewable for up to five years and a laptop computer, but they receive long-term intangible assistance. They are invited to an annual Life Skills Leadership Conference, given access to internships, mentors, and intimate life counselors and career advice.
This year the MJF partnered with Denny’s to offer scholarships to high school seniors and college students in the Los Angeles area.
2. Combating Depression: Former Los Angeles Lakers great, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson speaks at a news conference October 5, 1999 in Los Angeles where it was announced that the Magic Johnson Foundation, the National Medical Association, and Pfizer Inc. would collaborate to form an educational program designed to increase awareness and understanding of major depression in the African American community. (Photo by Chris Martinez)
3. Community Empowerment Centers: In 2001, MJF recognized the importance of current technological advances and the lack of digital resources in disadvantaged communities. In response, the foundation in partnership with Google HP Inventor Center created technology centers that are now called Community Empowerment Centers (CECs). These centers have serviced more than 255,000 participants in 16 urban
markets and the rural market of South Carolina since its inception,providing career preparation, SAT test prep, literacy development, technology boot camps and online learning scholarships.
4. Free HIV Testing: A man reads education literature as he waits for an HIV test at a free mobile testing center in Los Angeles offered by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the Magic Johnson Foundation to provide HIV testing and education in minority communities of Los Angeles. African-American women represent 73 percent of all newly reported HIV/AIDS cases in US women. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
5. And then there’s Tameka Cannon –
In 2011, Cannon spoke at banquet held by Urban Ventures, a nonprofit that supported Cannon through her high school years. There, Cannon met Magic Johnson. Johnson took to the podium after Cannon, and while delivering a speech to about 1,000 attendees, he stopped and asked for Cannon. Impressed by her ambition, he then said that we wanted to give $10,000 to Cannon toward the college of her choice.
According to the CBS article, the room was filled with emotion. Cannon was able to expand her options past community college and with 24 college credits already under her belt, she was accepted to St. Cloud
State University. Today, she’s a sophomore, a campus leader, and an A-student majoring in computer networking.
6. ASPiRE TV In an effort to implement positive programming to African-American families, Johnson, in partnership with GMC TV,launched ASPiRE TV on June 27, 2012. The network, available via Comcast cable, delivers documentaries, feature films, entertainment and inspirational programs.
7. Friends of Magic: Last September, Johnson announced that he was taking action against the overwhelming number of high school dropouts in America. Magic Johnson Bridgescape launched “Friends Of Magic,” which is a network of individuals, foundations and companies who’ve joined together to provide high school students who are at-risk or have dropped out of school with resources and assistance to graduate and take strides toward a successful future and career.
“As many as one quarter of our nation’s students are not finishing high school,” said Johnson. “Our goal is to ensure that no student falls through the cracks, and that all students have the opportunity to receive their high school diplomas and be fully prepared for college or the workplace.”
The program launched with the support of Common, Chicago-native hip-hop recording artist and actor.
“I have always admired Magic’s commitment to bring business and services to our community. In Chicago, the violence is so bad that we all need to band together whenever possible to provide real alernatives and give young people a reason to hope and to dream for a brighter future for themselves,” Common said. “I think this opportunity is a step in that direction for so many students. I’m honored to be a part of the launch of Friends of Magic and to work with Magic, through Common Ground Foundation, to do what we can for our youth in Chicago.”
Just for fun, here are some of the early ways Magic Johnson assisted:
For more information please visit www.magicjohnson.org