With no desire whatsoever to just shut up and dribble, one of the most outspoken athletes of our time, LeBron James, is joining forces with other prominent athletes and entertainers to protect the voting rights of black folks in America.
“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 told the New York Times. “We feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
That difference will take the form of More Than a Vote, a non-profit organization that will combat voter suppression and educate black voters on their rights. Among those joining LeBron in this endeavor are familiar names like NBA star Trae Young, WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith and retired NBA star and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, all of whom maintain that this initiative is unlike the celebrity voting drives or efforts that we’ve seen before.
“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James said. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”
LeBron’s achievements on the court are vast, but at 35-years-old, he realizes that his legacy will be determined by his accomplishments off the court as well. He’s always been much more than merely an athlete, and More Than a Vote provides the perfect opportunity to empower our community and spark sustained change.
“I’m inspired by the likes of 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. “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.”
Initial funding for this venture will be provided by LeBron and his business partner, Maverick Carter, who have recruited the assistance of voting rights organizations such as When We All Vote and Fair Fight, as well as the counsel of former political strategist Adam Mendelsohn and Addisu Demissie, who spearheaded Senator Cory Booker’s 2020 presidential campaign. The organization has also received commitments from Kevin Hart, NFL star Alvin Kamara and others.
“There’s a lot of people that want change in the black community,” James said. “If you actually don’t put in the work or if you don’t have the mindset, there’s never going to be change.”
Considering the extensive voter suppression efforts that black voters in Georgia experienced on Tuesday, initiatives like More Than a Vote couldn’t come at a better time.