LeBron James wants to grow the number of black voters and protect their rights.
He’s far from alone, which is why Trae Young, Jalen Rose, Draymond Green, and Skylar Diggins-Smith are among those teaming up with LeBron, building on the words and energy of the recent weeks of protests, and turning all that into action.
LeBron and his partners have formed an organization called “More Than A Vote” that will not only register black voters for the November election but also teach them how to counter voter suppression tactics. Plus, LeBron said he will use his social media presence, and the organization, to push back against restrictions on the right to vote (which often target minorities). From The New York Times:
“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” Mr. 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 has never been shy about using his celebrity and social media presence to support a cause — or to criticize President Donald Trump. That has been especially true since George Floyd was killed at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
However, forming “More Than A Vote” is taking the next step for LeBron into using his celebrity to build something that can spearhead real change. He is leading a generation of younger athletes willing to take a stand in a way that is reminiscent of legendary black athletes of the 1960s and ’70s but went out of style in the ’80s and until recently.
“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,” Mr. James 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.”
More Than A Vote will work with other voting rights organizations already doing similar work, but it brings some star power to the game. LeBron reached out to comedian Kevin Hart to do some speaking gigs, and included other NBA stars such as Green and Udonis Haslem in the organization.
Protests spontaneously sprung up nationally in the wake of the Floyd being killed, protests that have evolved but continued for weeks. Out of those has come a national discussion of what’s next to change issues of systemic racism in our country, centered around Black Lives Matter and “defund the police,” among other topics.
LeBron has found his topic, one that can help make a real change in this nation by getting people to vote. It’s a powerful step and symbol — like building a charter school — and it will someday be a huge part of how we remember LeBron. He’s not going to be remembered simply as a basketball player.