LeBron James is encouraging young people of color to vote
The newly crowned four-time NBA champion's organization More Than A Vote hopes to spread facts and encourage civic engagement
When Fox News host Laura Ingraham infamously told NBA star LeBron James to “shut up and dribble,” she inadvertently motivated the NBA star to increase his off-court activism.
He’s one of the athletes behind More than a Vote, an organization that works to empower young people of color to vote with the facts in hand.
To that end, More than a Vote recently announced a new initiative to get young people to the polls. As reported by The New York Times, the organization in conjunction with Win Black, will post a series of videos to Snapchat from celebrities and athletes to provide information on voting, particularly important this year with absentee, mail-in ballots and early voting being used more than ever.
The initiative is called Under Review and certainly, the stakes are high as President Donald Trump‘s leadership has led to a scattershot coronavirus response, a troubled economy, and a seemingly insurmountable political divide.
“We believe that Black people, our community, we’ve been pushed away from our civic duty,” James told the Times. “We’ve been fed misinformation for many years. And I’m in a position where I can educate people and, through More Than a Vote, educate people on how important this movement is, and how important their civic duty is. Not only to empower themselves, but to give back to their community as well.”
Before the restart of the COVID-suspended NBA season on July 30, NBA players debated returning to play while social justice issues were at the forefront, wondering if that would send the wrong message. When they did, they were granted civil rights messaging on T-shirts, on the courts in the Orlando ‘bubble’, and on their jerseys where players could add a list of approved phrases in addition to their names.
The NBA took it a step further after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 23 went viral. The Milwaukee Bucks, who play approximately 45 minutes away from the city, decided to boycott their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Aug. 26 sparking a wave of similar protests through multiple sports leagues.
The Bucks may have been more impacted than most as one of their teammates, Sterling Brown, has an active civil rights lawsuit against Milwaukee police for tasing and arresting him during an altercation in a convenience store parking lot in 2018.
In the wake of the boycott, Bucks players were connected to Wisconsin’s attorney general and consulted Barack Obama on their next steps. A plan was agreed upon to turn vacant NBA arenas into polling places for the upcoming election. It was a tangible result from one of the most united stands by athletic leagues in decades.
“I think they handled it great,” James said to the Times. “And the great thing is the partnership. The understanding — I don’t even want to just say understanding — them listening to us. They listened to the players. Like I said, we want change. To be able to have action and to have change, that’s what is important to us.”
The voting initiative is just one of James’ civic and philanthropic projects. His Lebron James Family Foundation founded a school, The Promise Academy, in his hometown of Akron, Ohio in 2018 which has seen impressive results in its first year.
More than a Vote hopes to be another organization that makes a positive change in the lives and outcomes of young people of color by getting them involved in taking action to improve their lives and outcomes.
“Harmful disinformation is being weaponized to block the voices and votes of Black Americans — but we have the power to stop it,” Win Black’s co-founders, Andre Banks and Ashley Bryant told the Times. “Through this partnership, Under Review will urgently flood the zone with the facts we need to counter the targeted attacks coming from bad actors at home and abroad.”
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