CNN has hired New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins as a commentator on race and social justice, several news outlets reported Monday. The NFL veteran has been an outspoken advocate for social justice, and becomes the first active professional athlete to be hired as a contributor for the network.
Jenkins was drafted by the Saints out of Ohio State in 2009 and won a Super Bowl with New Orleans his rookie year. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles for six seasons, capturing the 2018 Super Bowl with the team, before returning to New Orleans this offseason.
In 2010, he founded The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on helping the youth in under-served communities in New Orleans, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 2017, Jenkins and retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin created the Players Coalition, an independent advocacy group that is dedicated to improving the U.S. criminal-justice system. He is also the co-founder of Listen Up Media, a production company, and the executive producer of “Black Boys,” a documentary that seeks to examine what it’s like to grow up as a Black man in the U.S. focused on the “intersection of sports, education and criminal justice.” Earlier this month, he marched in a Philadelphia protest and gave a powerful speech outside The American American Museum.
“To the powers that be, I hope that we have your attention…”
Malcolm Jenkins speaks to the crowd of protesters in front of the African American Museum in Philly: pic.twitter.com/XmaIXiyKEK
— Alex Holley (@AlexHolleyFOX29) June 6, 2020
“We’ve continued on our path towards normalcy with slow, small steps toward change,” Jenkins told the crowd of protesters. “Well, I think the people have made themselves clear that right now is when we want that change. Our voices will no longer be ignored. So I say it again: I hope that we have your attention.”
Jenkins was one of several NFL players who spoke out against racism and police brutality against Black Americans, raising his fist during the national anthem ahead of Eagles’ home games in 2017 and 2018. The two-time Super Bowl champion has also contributed op-eds to CNN.com, The New York Times and Washington Post in the past on topics like mass incarceration and alternative policies for dealing with nonviolent criminal offenders.
He was also not afraid to correct Saints quarterback Drew Brees earlier this month when the white franchise player said he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” when it came to the issue of kneeling for the national anthem to raise awareness about police violence and racial injustice. Brees has since apologized for his “insensitive” comments.
With protests for George Floyd and other Black victims of police violence focusing the world’s eye on systemic racism and injustice, Jenkins hopes to retain the country’s attention and bring his perspective to CNN’s studio shows.
“Having spent years running non-profits and supporting grassroots organizations to address the inequalities of our criminal justice system, educational system and disparate wealth in our marginalized communities, I believe I can be a voice for other athlete activists and those who have dedicated their lives to changing legislation, policies and reforms for human equality,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Now more than ever, the public needs to be educated on the roles of elected positions of power, such as the District Attorney, Police Chief or City Council and how to hold those individuals accountable, especially through their voice and their vote.
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) June 15, 2020
“Looking forward to being heard,” Jenkins tweeted Monday.