There was Curly Neal and Geese Ausbie — and Meadowlark Lemon and Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, too. They were, of course, part of the historic Harlem Globetrotters, the predominantly black exhibition basketball team that has been entertaining audiences since the 1920s.
The Globetrotters will be returning to Biloxi at 7 p.m. Monday for a show at the Coast Coliseum. And though the Globetrotters are no strangers to South Mississippi, Monday’s show has some historic implications.
“Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” said Globetrotters forward Orlando “El Gato’ Melendez during a Friday visit with the students at Nativity BVM Elementary School.
Melendez said the Globetrotters had a history with King.
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“The Globetrotters used to follow Martin Luther King back in those days,” he said. “We were the only black team back then and we pushed for equality.”
He said the team would play two games when out on the road with the civil rights leader.
“We would play one for whites and one for blacks,” Melendez said, “and then it became one gym, with whites on on side and black on the other.
“It’s been amazing in the 91-year history for the team to see how things have changed with civil rights and now everyone can enjoy the show together.”
Biloxi played a role in the civil rights struggles of the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was the site of three civil rights protests known as the Biloxi Beach Wade-Ins.
“There’s so much history here in Biloxi,” Melendez said. “What a great place to have a show on a day dedicated to the great Dr. Martin Luther King.”
If you go
Who: Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Coast Coliseum, 2350 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Tickets: Start at $18 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
▪ Use the code DUNK to get 20 percent off on tickets.