NBA legend Michael Jordan just released a heartfelt statement and announced a major pair of donations to the Black Lives Matter movement and to a major police organization that is also seeking change.
Jordan is the first player to own an NBA franchise – the Charlotte Hornets – and is also a victim of gun violence, losing his father to highway robbers in the mid-1990s. The tragedy that convinced him to quit basketball for a while at the peak of his playing career, to deal with the anguish of that crime. He released this statement, an excerpt of it follows:
“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.
“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. 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.”
It’s a classy gesture from Michael Jordan, which is magnified by the aftermath of his franchise and the NBA by being forced to move their 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte due to a Republican law discriminating against LGBT people.
But Michael Jordan handled that problem with grace, and his latest statement shows true leadership, as he seeks to bridge the gap between partisans on both sides of the police brutality problem debate with constructive dialogue, and positive action for change.
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Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large and Podcast host for OccupyDemocrats. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.