Michael Jordan, Jordan Brand donate millions to groups fighting voter suppression

The basketball Hall of Famer and his apparel brand commit $2.5 million to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other organizations

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Michael Jordan (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Michael Jordan and his Jordan Brand are donating millions to combat voter suppression as part of their new commitment to social justice causes.

Jordan Brand, which is owned by Nike, announced Wednesday that it has pledged $2.5 million to three organizations to “support reformative practices that drive real change in the Black community.”

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement will receive $1 million each, while Black Voters Matter will receive $500,000.

“There is a long history of oppression against Black Americans that holds us back from full participation in American society. We understand that one of the main ways we can change systemic racism is at the polls,” Jordan said in a statement announcing the donation. “We know it will take time for us to create the change we want to see, but we are working quickly to take action for the Black community’s voice to be heard.”

Back in June, the NBA legend and his billion-dollar conglomerate announced a 10-year plan to donate $100 million in a way that will “directly impact the fight against systemic racism.” The three pillars of the initiative included social justice, economic justice and education and awareness.

READ MORE: Michael Jordan, Jordan Brand to donate $100 million to racial equality organizations

Craig Williams, Jordan Brand president, said the 10-year plan is about more than just donating money.

“The $100 million commitment was just the start. We are moving from commitment to action. Our initial partners can directly impact the social and political well-being of the Black community,” Williams said in a statement. “We will have a disciplined focus on social justice, economic justice and education, as the most effective ways for us to eliminate the systemic racism that remains in society.”

The overall 10-year plan will address three main points, including raising “civic engagement from the Black community to address issues that disproportionately affect them,” building “generational wealth in Black communities,” and educating others on the “deeper understanding of the effects and consequences of racism.”

Jordan, the six-time NBA champion who officially retired from the game in 2003, was consistently criticized during his days as sports’ biggest superstar for not being outspoken on social and political issues. As documented in the Emmy-nominated ESPN docuseries The Last Dance, Jordan received backlash for his infamous soundbite “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” in refusing to endorse Harvey Gantt, a Black candidate running against incumbent Sen. Jesse Helms in for North Carolina in 1990.

Jordan expressed that he had no regrets for his apolitical stances due to his intense commitment to basketball.

READ MORE: Michael Jordan issues statement about George Floyd: ‘I am plain angry’

“I wasn’t a politician when I was playing my sport. I was focused on my craft,” Jordan said in the series. “Was that selfish? Probably. But that was my energy. That’s where my energy was.”

However, after decades of criticism for not using his platform, Jordan, in 2016, donated $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Internationals Association of Chief’s of Police’s Institute for Community-Police Relations to help foster better relationships between law enforcement and the Black community.

Philando Castile was killed by police during a routine traffic stop in Minnesota weeks before Jordan’s donation.

“I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent,” Jordan told The Undefeated. “We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment and that police officers — who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all — are respected and supported.”

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