Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, Phoenix Mercury point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and other black athletes and entertainers came together to form a voting rights group called More Than a Vote, according to the New York Times‘ Jonathan Martin.
The group’s aim is to protect the voting rights of African Americans while also amplifying “their voices in this fall’s presidential election.”
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols
“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial. We’re going to give you the background of how to vote & what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.” - Lebron James to @jmartNYT on his new cause: https://t.co/KPni0czijo
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us—we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James told Martin on Wednesday. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
Young added: “If people my age see that I’m going out and I’m voting and I’m talking, maybe the next 21-year-old will.”
In February 2018, Fox News host Laura Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble” after the three-time NBA champion criticized President Donald Trump:
Those comments re-emerged last week when Ingraham said New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was “allowed to have an opinion”:
LeBron James @KingJames
If you still haven’t figured out why the protesting is going on. Why we’re acting as we are is because we are simply F-N tired of this treatment right here! Can we break it down for you any simpler than this right here???? 🤦🏾♂️. And to my people don’t worry I won’t stop until I see https://t.co/e4pJ0PvwJj
James also made a strong statement through his UNINTERRUPTED platform:
Numerous athletes have used their individual platforms to speak out against police brutality and racial injustice since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody May 25. The 46-year-old black man was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after since-fired officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Protests have been underway nationwide, and NBA players have been able to participate because of the 2019-20 season being suspended March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
James has been at the forefront of social justice issues since at least the killing of 17-year-old black teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012. James, Dwyane Wade and the entire 2011-12 Miami Heat roster famously wore black hoodies in honor of Martin.
James and other players across the league wore “I Can’t Breathe” tees during pregame warm-ups in 2014, which referred to Eric Garner’s dying words when an officer put him in a chokehold.
Former NBA star Jalen Rose is also among the prominent black figures involved in More Than a Vote.