SOUTHAMPTON, England – West Indies legend Michael Holding gave one of the most powerful speeches in the game’s history on Wednesday, articulating the widespread disgust with the ills of racism and outlining how education could be used to eradicate the menace in society.
Speaking on Sky Sports ahead of the start of the first Test between West Indies and England at the Ageas Bowl here, Holding’s powerful words on unity, justice and equality resonated across the globe, as rain forced a delayed start to the contest behind closed doors.
“What people need to understand is this thing stems from a long time ago, hundreds of years ago. The dehumanisation of the black race is where it started and people will tell you that is a long time ago, ‘get over it’,” Holding said.
“No, you don’t get over things like that and the society has not gotten over things like that.”
He added: “Everybody has heard about this lady in Central Park in New York (Amy Cooper) who was asked by a black man to put her dog on a leash, which is the law. She threatened this black man (Christian Cooper), saying that she was going to call the police and tell them there was a black man threatening her.
“If the society in which she was living did not empower her or get her to think that she had that power of being white and being able to call the police on a Black man, she would not have done it.”
The former Jamaica captain’s testimony was combined with a powerful gesture from West Indies as they knelt and held clenched fists raised in a show of support for Black Lives Matter. They were joined by members of the England team and the match officials.
In his illustrious career, the 66-year-old Holding took 249 wickets in 60 Tests. He holds the record for the best match figures in West Indies history – 14 for 149 runs against England at the Oval in 1976.
Holding said he believed the large number of white people who have taken part in protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement could help bring about change, and has urged all people to fully understand what the movement stands for.
“At protests years ago, even when Martin Luther King was marching, you would have predominantly black faces and a few white faces. This time a lot of white people are involved in these protests and that is the difference,” said Holding.
“What they saw [happen to George Floyd] was disgusting and people thought to themselves ‘enough is enough’. Everyone is recognising it, coming alive and seeing the difference in treatment of people.
“We are all human beings so I hope that people recognise that the Black Lives Matter movement is not trying to get black people above white people or above anyone else. It is all about equality.”
He stressed: “When people say ‘all lives matter’ or ‘white lives matter’, please, we black people know white lives matter. I don’t think you know that black lives matter. Don’t shout back at us that all lives matter.
“White lives matter, it is obvious; the evidence is clearly there. We want black lives to matter now. Simple as that.”
Holding, who has built a successful media career as an international cricket commentator and analyst, said education was critical to enacting change.
“History is written by the conqueror, not by those who are conquered. History is written by the people who do the harm, not by people who get harmed,” said the fast bowling icon.
“We need to go back and teach both sides of history. Now, until we do that and educate the entire human race, this thing will not stop.”