LeBron James regularly uses his massive social media platform to tout his viewpoints.
Now he’s formalizing that effort alongside a group of black athletes and entertainers in the form of a voting rights group.
James announced the effort called “More Than a Vote” in an interview with Jonathan Martin of The New York Times on Wednesday.
“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,” James told the Times. “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.”
James’ advocacy since George Floyd’s death
James has regularly spoken on social issues throughout his career. Lately, he’s leveraged his social media presence that includes 46.4 million Twitter followers to join the conversation around the George Floyd protests and social upheaval that has engulfed the nation since Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.
On Tuesday, he put Georgia’s primary elections in his crosshairs. The state with a history of voter disenfranchisement saw reports of hours-long waits at polling places in urban and minority neighborhoods while voting at predominately white, suburban polling places went relatively smoothly.
James seized the moment to call the voting system “structurally racist.”
Everyone talking about “how do we fix this?” They say “go out and vote?” What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist? https://t.co/GFtq12eKKt
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 9, 2020
Group focused on voting rights, not candidates
This appears to be the kind of issue James seeks to address with “More Than a Vote,” rather than engaging in specific candidate advocacy. According to the Times, the group will be organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, which prohibits it from engaging directly in political campaigns for office.
Instead, James and others in the group intend to focus its efforts on issues affecting the black community and getting out the vote for the 2020 election. That includes raising awareness of voter suppression as fears of the political tactic to maintain power persist as November’s elections approach.
“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.”
Who’s joining James?
James is joined by Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, former Miami Heat teammate Udonis Haslem and former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose in the group, according to the Times. James has also reached out to musicians and secured a commitment from comedian Kevin Hart, according to the report.
“I’m sick of seeing unarmed black men killed by the police,” Diggins-Smith told the Times. She’s participating in the group “to put some action behind my frustrations, behind my anger, behind the helplessness that I’ve been feeling.”
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