Atlanta Dream veteran Renee Montgomery believes “moments equal momentum,” which is why she decided to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season in Florida for social justice pursuits. One of those moments has presented itself early in Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler’s stance against the Black Lives Matter movement and the league’s support of it.
Montgomery, who joined the Dream in 2018, had already offered to have a conversation with Loeffler about the movement. On Friday, she wrote an open letter to the U.S. senator from Georgia inviting her to rethink her stance.
History of politics and sports
Montgomery, a two-time WNBA champion with the Minnesota Lynx, penned the open letter on Medium.
Your comments hurt deeply because it was a veiled “All Lives Matter” response. It’s not that you’re tone deaf to the cry for justice, but you seemingly oppose it. And you are speaking from a position of immense influence as a team co-owner in our league and as a US Senator.
Loeffler has spent the week doubling down on her stance against the Black Lives Matter movement and fighting against “politics coming into sports.” The WNBA announced Monday it would devote its season to social justice causes, which led to Loeffler’s opposition letter to commissioner Cathy Engelbert. She said it would exclude people.
Montgomery noted the history of sports and politics, including Bill Russell and his Black teammates boycotting a game in October 1961 after a Lexington, Kentucky, restaurant refused them service. She also mentioned former Lynx teammate Maya Moore, who stepped away from basketball in 2019 and successfully helped free a wrongly convicted Black man from prison.
‘Right’ side of election, ‘wrong side of history’
Loeffler was appointed to her seat by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp late last year and is now in a contentious special election race alongside more than a dozen other candidates. Doug Collins is favored over Loeffler for the appointment by President Donald Trump and she now trails Collins in the race.
Her letter, and the media appearances that have come since, are directly related to that senate run and Montgomery made sure to put it in historical context.
Senator Loeffler, with or without you, we will continue this movement because it’s bigger than me or you. From Senator Richard Russell Jr. to Senator Herman Talmadge, whose seat in the US Senate you now occupy, Georgia has a long history of politicians opposing civil rights. However, I want to live in a world where you’re standing with me, arms interlocked in solidarity, just as I would have been with you during the suffrage movement in 1919 to give you, a woman, the right to vote.
I kindly invite you to rethink your stance and join a discussion with me. While you might very well be on the “right” side of this November’s elections, you are on the wrong side of history if you can’t see that Black Lives Matter.
She signed it “With Momentum, Renee Montgomery.”
Dream players respond in unified statement
Hours after Montgomery initially published her letter, the Atlanta Dream account published a statement signed by every player saying they are “united in the Movement for Black Lives.”
“This is not a political statement,” they wrote. “This is a statement of humanity.”
The WNBA Players Association is reportedly meeting with Engelbert to address the next steps. The group was clear in a tweet earlier this week that players want Loeffler out.
Loeffler has said she will not be giving up her stake in the team. Co-owner Mary Brock, who bought the team with Loeffler in 2011, hasn’t expressed any interest in buying out her stake, Howard Megdal of The IX reported on Wednesday.
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