By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Sac State guard Cameron Wilbon warms up in a shirt honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before the Hornets’ game against Northern Arizona University Saturday, Jan. 14. Russell Stiger Jr., OBSERVER

The Sacramento State athletic department celebrated the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the men’s basketball team’s home game against Northern Arizona on Jan. 14.

First-year head coach David Patrick said he spent a portion of the week preparing for the holiday weekend that honors the civil rights icon’s birthday and his connection to Sacramento State.

“Yes, I went out to buy printed shirts [with King’s image on them] earlier this week,” Patrick said after the game. “This is special. I wanted to do it for the players and I wanted them to understand who Dr. King is and what he stood for.”

Dr. King visited Sacramento State on Oct. 16, 1967, the only time he had the privilege to speak at one of the California State University (CSU) system’s campuses. He delivered his speech at Campus Stadium, since renamed Hornet Stadium.

Dr. King was in the early stages of planning and promoting the Poor People’s Campaign. The campaign began as the Poor People’s March, a demonstration in which participants urged the U.S. government to address employment and housing issues. The national Poor People’s Campaign has a Sacramento chapter.

“There should never be a time when people don’t know that Dr. King once delivered an inspiring speech about the plight of the poor in Sacramento,” said Kevin Carter, a community activist and high-ranking member of the local Poor People’s Campaign.

During timeouts and halftime, videos were shown of Dr. King making speeches during his 39 years of life, including the monumental address to the students of Sacramento State more than 55 years ago. 

Sac State men’s basketball coach David Patrick, talks to his team during the Hornets’ 59-56 win against Northern Arizona University. Patrick bought printed shirts for his players to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I wanted to do it for the players and I wanted them to understand who Dr. King is and what he stood for,” he said. Russell Stiger Jr., OBSERVER

Blended with Dr. King’s recognition, the Sacramento State Hornets (11-7, 4-1 Big Sky Conference) equaled last season’s win total by beating the visiting Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 59-56 at the Nest. Sac State has as many as four Big Sky victories for just the third time since joining the league in 1996.

Sacramento State had won eight of its last 10 games headed into Thursday’s game at Idaho State, which was played after press time.

Senior guard Zach Chappell, who led the team against Northern Arizona with 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists, appreciated the athletic department’s efforts and Patrick’s acknowledgment of Dr. King.

“This is why I love playing for coach Patrick,” said Chappell, who played for Capital Christian High School. “He’s a player’s coach. He is going to teach you about things on and off the court.”