Harlem Globetrotters McClurkin teaches the ABCs of bullying prevention

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Harlem Globetrotter star Julian “Zeus” McClurkin runs out under a J.R.R. Tolkien quote as he is introduced for his ABCs of Bullying Prevention assembly at Wiley Magnet Elementary

RALEIGH — A is action, B is bravery and C is compassion. Julian “Zeus” McClurkin of the Harlem Globetrotters visited Wiley Magnet Elementary on March 22 to teach students about the “ABCs of Bullying Prevention.”McClurkin mixed in humor, games and some basketball tricks to promote anti-bullying. He broke down the steps of what the students can do starting with telling a parent or teacher about the bullying.”A lot of times a bully will never stop intimidating people until they get in trouble for their actions,” McClurkin said. “I promise you if you tell on a bully that action will be corrected and hopefully that person won’t bully anybody anymore. Hopefully, you won’t just help the bully out so they don’t get in trouble anymore, but you will help people down the line. That person may try to intimate you in middle school, in high school, in college, later on in your adult life at your job. We have people who grow up and remain bullies, because no one ever stepped up and told on them.”Lynn Christiansen, the school’s librarian, said telling an adult is one of the lessons they teach to students.”We definitely teach them to talk to an adult as their first step, and we teach them to walk away or laugh it off,” Christiansen said. “It is pretty consistent with the message we always try to send our students. It was spot on.”McClurkin used examples from his childhood when he was bullied.”It may not look like it, because I’m 6 foot 8, 225 pounds, but when I was your age and your size, I was bullied in school,” he said. “One instance I can think of is when a girl would always mess with me in my music class. Every time I started playing the drums she would start throwing drumsticks at me. She was just looking for a reaction out of me. I was just this happy-go-lucky kid. Every time she would mess with me I skipped right over to the teacher, and the teacher would see her, and she would get into trouble.”McClurkin said he joined the Harlem Globetrotters because of their anti-bullying ideals. They were the first basketball to have African-American players and woman players. He also joined because while playing basketball in high school, his teammates and coaches told him he was too nice.”They said in order to be good at basketball you have to have a killer instinct and this mean streak, which I never developed,” McClurkin said. “I was the type of guy if I fouled you, I apologized for it. Or I’m running down the court with an opposing team I would say keep your head up, you’re having a good game. My coaches hated that I had a guy tell me one time, he said, ‘Julian all you want to do is smile and dunk. Smile and dunk is all you do.’ Well today I get paid to smile and dunk.”McClurkin emphasized it is OK to be a nice person, even to a bully or to someone who has been a victim of bullying — the final letter of the ABCs of Bullying Prevention: compassion.”If you’re a nice person, stay a nice person,” he said. “Don’t let people try to change you and tell you you have to be mean to make it in this world. There’s a place in this world for you.”Through all the laughing, clapping and yelling, Christiansen said she hopes the message came across.”The kids really enjoyed it,” Christiansen said. “They had a really good time. Maybe they will remember the ABCs to help with bullying.”