Basketball legend Michael Jordan is no stranger to making headlines — at least on the sports page. But Jordan, a retired NBA star and the lone African-American majority owner of a franchise (the Charlotte Hornets), is in the news again this week — and this time, it has nothing to do with his prowess on the basketball court.
Jordan, apparently moved by racial and social unrest in America — manifested in the widely publicized Black Lives Matter movement that was fueled by police killings — released this statement to the public:
“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
“I can no longer stay silent,” Jordan continued. “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.”
In an effort to help “make a positive difference” in improving race relations and the trust between law enforcement and their communities, Jordan is donating two grants totaling $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations — an agency launched in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police — and to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference,” Jordan wrote.
Terrence Cunningham, the IACP president and chief of the Wellesley (Massachusetts) Police Department, told The Undefeated:
“What an opportunity for Michael Jordan to do this and help raise the discussion between police and the members of the communities they serve,” Cunningham said. “The IACP aims to provide a toolbox for departments and communities to come together to discuss implicit bias and police legitimacy, and this is an opportunity to help that along.”
Jordan has taken some criticism over the years about his choice to remain mum when it comes to political and social advocacy. Although NBA star Carmelo Anthony praised Jordan’s efforts, he also said it was “about time” for the basketball legend to take a stand on something.
“I thought it was brilliant and about time that he stepped up and said what he said,” Anthony said after a meeting with community leaders in Los Angeles. “At the end of the day, amongst us, he is our face. 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.”
Jordan is worth $1.14 billion, according to Forbes.
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