NBA legend Michael Jordan is the latest in a string of black athletes that have used their platform to speak out about racial tensions in America, namely between black men and law enforcement.
On Monday, the usually cautious Jordan, penned a letter that was featured on sports and social commentary website The Undefeated.
“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,” Jordan wrote. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
Jordan, widely considered one of the greatest athletes of ever, pledged $1 million to two organizations in hopes of alleviating tension between the African American society and police: The Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Jordan is not the first prominent black athlete to speak out regarding the recent deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement. On July 13, at the 2016 ESPY Awards, an annual ABC/ESPN awards show that honors excellence in athletic achievement, NBA superstars LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, opened the show by calling on athletes to used their popularity to promote change in our country.
“Let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves,” James said. “Speak up. Use our influence. And renounce all violence…We all have to do better.”
Watch the full speech below.
On Saturday, July 9, just a few days before the ESPY Awards, the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx donned black warm-up t-shirts that paid homage to Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, and the Dallas Police Department, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We as a nation can decide to stand up for what is right, no matter your race, background or social status,” said Maya Moore, arguably the league’s best player. “It is time we take a deep look at our ability to be compassionate and empathetic to those suffering from the problems that are deep within our society.”