LeBron James has encouraged the Black community to “know their voting rights” after signing a letter to fight voter suppression.
Covid-19 is posing questions about voting safely in the upcoming US presidential election. Four years ago, lower Black participation was blamed on efforts to restrict voting rights as well as online disinformation campaigns and apathy.
The “More Than A Vote” campaign has been backed by James and a number of other Black athletes, including NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Patrick Mahomes and Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix.
James’ Lakers face the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the NBA playoffs in Orlando on Tuesday, ahead of which he urged Black voters to make their voices heard.
“A lot of people in our community, in the Black community … one, don’t want to vote because they don’t believe their vote counts,” James told reporters.
“Two, don’t know where to go and vote. Three, they are basically suppressed so much that they were like, ‘I’m not going anyways because it doesn’t even matter. Cause no one cares about us, no one cares about our opinions, or cares about who we’d like to have in office.’
“And we’re just trying to change that narrative and let them know that this is important. You are wanted and you are needed.”
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‘Giving them the strength’
The coalition of Black athletes and artists formed the campaign ahead of the US presidential election in November and in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier this year.
As well as encouraging voting among the Black community, the campaign intends to help convert unused sports arenas into voting centers, as well as promoting awareness of understaffed voting facilities, broken voting machines and long lines to vote, according to an open letter published in The Undefeated.
“For me to be able to have this platform where I can create something like ‘More Than A Vote,’ by just giving them the tool, giving them the knowledge, giving them the strength to not only actually go out and vote but to actually know their voting rights,” James added.
READ: Sports teams want to turn their arenas into voting centers
READ: What you need to know for the NBA playoffs
James, whose Lakers topped the Western Conference standings, is chasing his fourth NBA title and first since joining Los Angeles in 2018.
He is 89 points away from 7,000 postseason points ahead of Tuesday’s game having already become the first player to surpass 6,000.
This week also saw the reveal of the uniform James will wear in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” the sequel to the 1996 film starring Michael Jordan that will be released in July 2021.
The light blue uniform, which was posted by the LeBron James Family Foundation on social media, features yellow and red circles and the “Tune Squad” team name – the same team Jordan suited up for in his version of the film over two decades ago.