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Time and time again, we have seen athletes use their platform for more than just sports. Although some of them have been told to stay out of politics, our favorite professionals have done the exact opposite. As we continue to fight racial injustice and fuel the #blacklivesmatter movement, we have seen changes in the athletic world.
Earlier this month, NASCAR’s only full-time African American driver called for the removal of the Confederate flag in facilities. Recently, Lebron James has used his platform to work against voter suppression in the African American community.
Lebron James has continuously used his voice to take a stance. His advocacy has received heavy criticism and backlash resulting in him being told to “shut up and dribble” by journalist Laura Ingram last year. Despite the numerous comments spoken against him, Lebron has pushed even harder for his community. His “more than an athlete” campaign inspired him to put even more work behind his words.
Earlier this month, James announced the launching of his More Than a Vote initiative. A statement released on morethanavote.org emphasized that the “priority right now is combating systemic, racist, voter suppression by educating, energizing, and protecting our community in 2020.”
In an interview with the New York Times, James shared “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.” He continued with “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.”
While the main goal is to encourage Black voters to participate in the November election, James made it clear that this is more than the average “get out there and vote” routine celebrities do every four years. In addition to the mission’s focus on voter turnout, the group also wants to educate individuals on the voting process, electoral college, and barriers put in place to prevent people from making it to the polls. Hollywood Life revealed that the ‘More Than a Vote’ campaign is nonpartisan, but will partner with other campaigns such as Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote.
The initiative has also teamed up with other Black athletes and entertainers including Trae Young, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Jalen Rose, Draymond Green, and Kevin Hart.“When you look at ‘More Than a Vote,’ this is more than a vote, this is life” Green said in an interview with ESPN. “This is life or death, you see all of these things going on with looting, and protesting, and all of those things, you know that – those things aren’t happening for no reason and so when you’re talking More Than a Vote, you’re talking about all of those things.”
Although there are a lot of current partners, Lebron expressed that he drew inspiration from other athletes who used their platforms as well. “I’m inspired but the Muhammad Ali, I’m inspired by the Bill Russells and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, the Oscar Robertsons- those guys who stood when the times were even way worse than they are today,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. “Hopefully, someday down the line, people will recognize me not only for the way I approached the game of basketball, but the way I approached life as an African American man.”
As we continue to push through a challenging time, it is important for silenced voices to be heard. Lebron James is aware that this initiative will not solve the deeply rooted hatred in this country, but it is a way to continue the process. We are more than what America has taught us, it is now time that it is known.
Toree Weaver is an AfterBuzz TV host with a passion for glamour and kingdoms. When she isn’t modeling or dancing, she can be found binge watching shows from Gossip Girl to Game of Thrones.
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