Through simple yet brave acts of protest, athletes across the country and of all ages have joined a powerful movement calling for racial justice and an end to police violence. We’ve seen them on national television, in our high school gymnasiums, and underneath the Friday night lights. But these athletes, from youth to college to professional, need our support.
On a near daily basis, they are facing harassment and retaliation for demanding justice. Damontre Moore of the Dallas Cowboys was cut for raising his first at the end of the anthem last week, Kennesaw State has banished kneeling cheerleaders into the stadium tunnels after pressure from a local sheriff, others like the high school volleyball player Kamryn face daily harassment from fellow students and their parents, and Colin Kaepernick is still being blackballed by the NFL. For standing tall in the face of all these threats, harassment and retaliation, these athletes are superheroes.1 2
But they cannot do this all on their own, we need to have the backs of these athletes fighting for justice. For them, we are taking our own action. We are launching a month long campaign dedicated to uplifting these athletes, defending their rights, and centering their calls for racial and criminal justice reform. Help us #SuperPowerChange by sharing your love and support with the athletes who are fighting for us everyday.
Right now, we are in a unique moment in history, where sports and athletes at all levels are playing a pivotal role in shaping our culture and consciousness. Their actions are having a real impact. In the last couple of months we have seen a remarkable shift in public awareness of the racial justice issues players are protesting for – now up to 66% of people – as well as a rapid increase in the number of Americans showing support for the protests.3 An increase from 42% last year to 51% last month.4
But make no mistake, there are still many powerful people who want nothing more than to silence the Black athletes demanding justice. NFL owners like Jerry Jones and Bob McNair, the Miami and Cleveland police departments, school administrators, local sheriffs, state representatives, and of course, Trump and Mike Pence have all taken steps to restrict the rights of athletes to protest for Black people and to undermine their message.
Even though there are powerful people fighting against athlete activists and their racial justice message, momentum is on our side.If we keep pushing, and elevating the bravery and messages of athletes at all levels, we can #SuperPowerChange and win racial and criminal justice reforms well beyond the arena of sports.
This open letter is just the beginning. At Color Of Change, we are committed to supporting athletes at all levels as they push forward this vital conversation. We want to go even further in both supporting and celebrating the power of athletes and activism during the November Month of Action. Throughout the rest of the month we will be launching actions like:
- #SuperPowerChange Hub– an interactive website that will be the November Month of Action nervecenter. A place where you can see all the latest actions and social media content available.
- Weekly petitions and calls to action including:
- Calling on local prosecutors in target areas to take action on bail reform and juvenile life without parole cases.
- Petitions uplifting “local heroes” and students that are leading protests in their communities and facing repercussions.
- #WhyIProtest – videos uniquely curated illustrations and social media content that highlight the issues, fights and individuals that inspire people to organize for change.
- #FightForPower – a national virtual townhall with athletes and policy and decision makers elevating the core issues and fights and opportunity for engagement.
Together we can #SuperPowerChange and make November a powerful Month of Action. Help us kick off this month of action by sending your own statement of support to the athletes, sports journalists and students fighting for us.
Until justice is real,
— Rashad and the rest of the Color Of Change team.
1. “Campus anthem battle: It’s cheerleaders vs. a sheriff and a powerful lawmaker,” Yahoo Sports, 25 October 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/9768?t=9&akid=8122%2E1174326%2El7t6Og
2. “Did Cowboys release DE Damontre Moore for raising his fist?,” Cowboys Wire, 24 October 2018. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/9812?t=11&akid=8122%2E1174326%2El7t6Og
3. “CBS News – September 28, 2017 Protest Poll,” CBS News, 28 September 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/9813?t=13&akid=8122%2E1174326%2El7t6Og
4. “Poll Says a Majority of Americans Think Leagues Should Not Require Players to Stand During Anthem,” Sports Illustrated, 25 October 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/9814?t=15&akid=8122%2E1174326%2El7t6Og
#SuperPowerChange by signing the open letter to our sung and unsung sports superheroes!