After decades of remaining mum about political issues throughout his career, basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan finally breaks his silence. Jordan released a statement yesterday via ESPN’s The Undefeated condemning violence against both African-Americans and police.
Over his career as a six-time World Champion for the Chicago Bulls and as an owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan has avoided public statements on politics and civil rights, even when other athletes have spoken out.
“I can no longer stay silent,” Jordan writes. “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 statement comes after the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (both African-American) and two deadly attacks against police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“I know this country is better than that,” Jordan writes.
Jordan says he plans to make $1 million donations each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the recently established Institute for Community-Police Relations.
Current NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul opened the 2016 ESPYs earlier this month by asking professional athletes to speak up on issues of social justice. WNBA players have spoken out as well, wearing black shirts during warm-ups with the printed words “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#Dallas5,” in reference to the five police officers killed in Dallas earlier this month.
In response to Jordan’s statement, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony praised the basketball legend for his decision to speak out on this issue. “About time that he stepped up,” Anthony told USA Today yesterday.
“At the end of the day, amongst us, he is our face,” said Anthony. “He’s a very powerful African-American.”