By Chris Hoenig
Donald Sterling prayed this weekend at a mostly Black church.
No, this is not a satire piece.
The 80-year-old, whose wife has agreed to a $2 billion deal to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after Sterling’s racist attitudes were made even more public with a secretly taped recording, attended the Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church in South Los Angeles on Sunday.
Pastor J. Benjamin Hardwick invited Sterling to the service at a recent meeting, and Sterling obliged, calling the mass “beautiful.” The disgraced Clippers owner reportedly received a warm welcome, while Pastor Hardwick said the congregation was praying for him.
It’s not the first time Sterling has attempted to make the public believe he doesn’t hold any racist attitudes or prejudices towards Blacks. Shortly after the scandal over his recorded comments broke, it was revealed that the L.A. chapter of the NAACP planned to give Sterling a second Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sterling “earned” the award by making significant donations to the chapter over the course of two decades. “It’s an insignificant amount of money, and we’re going to return it,” then-chapter President Leon Jenkins said.
“There is no place in my town for any racist company,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CNBC after the comments were leaked. “We don’t want to see leadership of any company here that’s not welcome in Los Angeles. And we absolutely won’t tolerate it. Those comments were despicable.”
Jenkins ultimately resigned from his post.
But that wasn’t the only award given to Sterling by the local NAACP. He was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, at which time Jenkins touted Sterling as someone who “has a unique history of giving to the children of L.A.”
Apparently, the NAACP either missed or overlooked two racially charged lawsuits that sandwiched the 2009 award. Just before being honored, former Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor sued Sterling, alleging racial and age discrimination.
Just months later, Sterling agreed to a nearly $3 million settlement, ending lawsuits that claimed he discriminated against Blacks and Latinos in his real-estate empire, which includes several apartment buildings.