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Harlem Globetrotter brings hope to homeless students

Globetrotters 02.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Julian "Zeus" McClurkin of The Original Harlem Globetrotters talks to fourth and fifth grade students at the Monarch School about how to deal with bullying, San Diego February 8, 2022.

One of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters visited the Monarch School in Barrio Logan Tuesday, carrying a message of hope to children who need it most. Students at the school are homeless or living with home insecurity.

Julian “Zeus” McClurkin is a 6’8” forward for the Original Harlem Globetrotters team. In between basketball games, he travels the world with a message to stop bullying.

He speaks from a lifetime of experience.


McClurkin said, “Discrimination is a part of bullying. There are different levels to it. That’s one way we were bullied coming up. African Americans were not allowed to play basketball in white-only leagues.”

M.G. Perez
Julian "Zeus" McClurkin balances a basketball on his shoulders at the Monarch School in Barrio Logan, February 8, 2022

Zeus McClurkin is a testament to perseverance in not letting obstacles get in the way of achieving one’s dreams.

He was cut from every basketball team he tried out for in middle school and the first two years of high school. He finally made his high school team his junior and senior seasons. He shares that story with students along with what he calls the A-B-Cs to stop bullying. “The A is for ‘take action’, the B is for bravery,” McClurkin continued, “the letter C stands for the compassion you must have for others.”

M.G. Perez
Fourth and Fifth grade students at the Monarch School who receive an education, emotional support, and life skills to cope with the challenges of homelessness and home insecurity, Barrio Logan, February 8, 2022

Gabriel Salas, 10, is a 5th-grade student at the Monarch School. He says he has been bullied before and is protective of friends who have been harassed, too. Gabriel said, “I tell them to walk away and don’t let them try to fight you.”

Walking away from a bully and telling an adult is one of the strategies shared with students at the Globetrotter assembly. McClurkin said, “A kid's attention span can be kind of short, but if we can use that attention and use this basketball, I think it’s very pivotal and we can stop behaviors we don’t want in the future.”

Harlem Globetrotter brings hope to homeless students

Kristin Tanner has taught at the Monarch School for 17 years. She has witnessed bullying of her students from each other and even adults. “A lot of times someone who is bullying is someone who is also hurting themselves,” she said, “the solution begins with learning to be compassionate, kind, and respectful within their community.”

Along with the message, the Globetrotter shares the legacy of his famous team. Some are surprised to learn they were named after the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s and not the New York City neighborhood.

The team is from Chicago.