Michael Jordan is doing his part to address racial unrest in America. (Sam Sharpe/USA Today Sports)
NBA legend and Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan spoke out about the continuing social and racial unrest in the United States on Monday, saying he can “no longer stay silent” about the issue.
In a brief statement released exclusively to The Undefeated, the six-time NBA Finals champion and lone African-American majority owner of an NBA team sounded off on “the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement.” He also announced grants of $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations, launched by International Association of Chiefs of Police in May, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, two organizations working on bettering relations with law enforcement and their communities.
“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late,” Jordan wrote. “I know this country is better than that. … We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers — who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all — are respected and supported.”
The two groups were informed of Jordan’s donations on Sunday. Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said the group is “surprised and shocked, but obviously thrilled,” while IACP president Terrence Cunningham applauded Jordan in his efforts to “help raise the discussion between police and the members of the communities they serve.”
“Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem,” Jordan wrote, “I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.”
Jordan’s statement comes after several professional athletes have spoken out on the political and social issues of today. Most noticeably, NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James began the ESPYs award show by asking their peers to use their platforms to address important topics.
Following a town hall meeting Monday in Los Angeles with community leaders, Anthony called Jordan’s statement “brilliant” and said it was “about time” racial issues were addressed by Jordan, who has been known to be quiet regarding social problems in the past.
“At the end of the day, amongst us, he is our face,” Anthony said. “He is an African-American and a very powerful African-American, so for him to step up in the midst of these times right now, it was very big on his behalf. It’s not always about the money, but for him to step up and put his money where his mouth is at, the timing was perfect.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who banned former Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014 for racist comments, also congratulated Jordan for his efforts.
“I applaud Michael Jordan for these donations,” Silver said. “His championing of important social issues including fundamental civil and human rights carries enormous impact in communities everywhere.”
In his statement, Jordan said he hopes that the problems facing the country can be faced together in order to create a better world.
“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country — a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities,” Jordan said. “The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”