NBA player Moe Harkless partners with The Prisoner Wine Company for social justice
The athlete shared how he became inspired to use his hobby to empower his community and inspire change with theGrio
Former New York Knicks and current Miami Heat player Moe Harkless partnered with The Prisoner Wine Company to amplify social justice causes.
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Once the pandemic hit, Harkless gained free time to indulge in personal hobbies, one of them being wine. The basketball player hosted a weekly “Wine Wednesday” series on the Instagram page of Uninterrupted, an athlete empowerment brand founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. On the live series, Harkless introduced facts about wine from sommeliers and other enthusiasts.
The 27-year-old Queens native also used the time of heightened social awareness to shift his platform towards uplifting and empowering people, places, and things in the Black community inside of, and beyond the social justice space.
His personal website, www.moeharkless.com, is not a highlight reel, but instead, a one-stop-shop for resources to register to vote, sign petitions, mental health resources, and support Black-owned businesses and restaurants.
Now operating under the name Black Lives Now, the website evolved from a simple idea.
“Well.. the platform started off as just us creating small digital posters to go along with lists of different ways to support Black business and Black culture right now,” Harkless informed theGrio in an exclusive emailed statement. “I posted a few links on Instagram and it only lived there at first. Then, it evolved into the website, as I felt it very was important in the current climate. A lot of people were coming up to me or texting me saying they wanted to help, but didn’t know where to begin.”
“We aimed to create a place to start, as well as a place to come when you want to try something new – hopefully bringing new attention to a lot of these Black businesses or artists.”
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Once Harkless learned of Constellation Brands, the parent company of The Prisoner Wine Company, and its dedication to invest over $100 million over the next decade to Black and minority-owned businesses to improve representation in the beverage alcohol industry, he saw a window of opportunity.
According to the press release, the leading beverage alcohol company started by donating $1 million to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Harkless was introduced to the Napa Valley-based winery at the beginning of the pandemic after hearing others compliment their different blends.
“After trying several different offerings in the portfolio, I was interested to see if we could work together, as I had learned that the brand was committed to promoting philanthropic involvement in their community, and also support my efforts in the Black Lives Matter movement. I reached out and there was an immediate connection,” Harkless said to theGrio.
On the court, the once free agent recently signed a 1-year contract with the Miami Heat. Moe Harkless caught up with theGrio through email and shared his thoughts on the new team, the NBA’s commitment to social justice, being a Black athlete and more on the partnership with The Prisoner Wine Company. Read the Q&A below.
theGrio: How do you hope to evolve Black Lives Now in the next few years?
Moe Harkless: I think there’s a lot we can do with it in the future. I came across a website not too long ago, officialblackwallstreet.com, and it really grabbed my attention. It’s a directory; a Yelp-type page for black businesses. I see Black Lives Now expanding to something like this, which was really my main purpose for creating it in the first place. If things ever go back to normal, I’d like to do a couple of fundraiser events, wine tasting events with the obvious intention to give back to Black-owned businesses in different ways.”
tG: What does social justice mean to you?
MH: Creating a sustainable and equitable society for everyone and acknowledging the wrongs that our country has committed against Indigenous Black and Brown people.
tG: How depth was your wine knowledge before the partnership? Have you learned anything new?
MH: When I turned 21, I signed up for a wine.com membership, and was really excited to try different wines and bottles each month. Since then, my wine knowledge has continued to grow. I look up to some of the veteran players in the league who have really become connoisseurs – that’s the level of wine knowledge I’d love to achieve.
Since partnering with The Prisoner Wine Company, I’ve learned a lot about the different portfolio of wines, including their newest wines to accompany their namesake. I also look forward to when I can head to Napa Valley to visit the winery.
tG: What are you looking forward to in a new environment and a new NBA team, going from New York to Miami?
MH: I’m looking forward to meeting the team, coaching staff, and front office, and getting to know everyone and vice versa. I’m looking forward to competing at the highest level again and putting in the work needed for us to build off the run in the postseason they had last year. I’m looking forward to indulging in the culture of the Miami Heat, as well as the city of Miami.
I also look forward to sharing a bottle or two of The Prisoner Wine Company’s wines with the new guys and learn a couple things from them as well! Sharing a bottle of wine with teammates in the past at a team dinner was always a really great way to unwind from a game or day of training and it’s always interesting to see what bottle people are drawn to.
tG: What do you think of the NBA’s commitment to social justice and amplifying Black Lives Matter?
MH: I think the NBA has done a great job. I think they’ve been listening to all the players and trying to understand. They’ve done a great job of supporting players when they use their voice (or not), and try to help push the agenda forward. Mr. [Adam] Silver has always been remarkable when it comes to his support of players and their feelings.
tG: How much responsibility do you think professional athletes hold to acknowledge and empower social movements?
MH: I definitely think we, as professional athletes, are given a lot [of] responsibility when it comes to that subject. However, some are uncomfortable speaking out or really don’t know how to navigate these types of situations. So, at times, I think it can be a bit unfair to expect. I am grateful for this opportunity with TPWC as it not only is another opportunity to promote social initiatives, but it amplifies it to a different community. This partnership is an example of how we’re always more powerful together.
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