Two weeks ago, the NBA made an unprecedented move to stage a walkout right in the the middle of the postseason. After months of protests against racial injustice, yet another unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leading players around the league to reprioritize their efforts toward social change.
After two days of meetings between the players’ association and the board of governors, the league came up with a multifaceted plan to use its platform, its influence, and wealth to launch several initiatives, including a media campaign designed to educate the public on social cause and a plan to retrofit team-owned arenas as voting locations for the coming elections.
Beyond that, teams and individual players have led efforts of their own, and the Boston Celtics announced on Tuesday the creation of a major, decade-long commitment to fight inequality in America. The Celtics Shamrock Foundation, along with the team’s investor group, are launching a massive, 10-year, $25 million program that will combat systemic inequality. Jaylen Brown, who has been among the NBA’s leading voices on the issue of social justice since entering the league, was among those that issued a statement with the announcement.
“Our goal is to have a direct impact now,” said Celtics forward Jaylen Brown. “We don’t need to pacify the situation with empty gestures. We need to hold ourselves, the Celtics organization, and the city of Boston accountable. Monetary commitment is a great first step, but we need to commit to this process by creating a balance of short and long-term change. The time is now.”
The six pillars of the program will focus on equality in education, economic opportunity and empowerment, equality in healthcare, criminal justice and law enforcement, breaking down barriers and building bridges between communities, and voting an civic engagement.
We can expect to see more programs like this in the near future as the league and its players are leveraging their stardom and their wealth in a way we haven’t seen before.