At Xyza, we often share stories about protests. Why? Because protests are powerful and oftentimes they change the course of history. Take, for example, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Over two hundred thousand people participated in the march to demand that African Americans are given equal, civil, and voting rights. The result? In 1964, the Civil Rights Act, which ended segregation in public places and employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, and religion, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. A year later, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law, making it illegal for states to racially discriminate when it comes to voting.
Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Bucks were getting ready to play in game five of the NBA playoffs. That same week, an African American man named Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests broke out in Wisconsin and throughout the country, with protesters once again demanding police reform and social justice for the African -American community. Something had to change and the Bucks agreed. They decided to boycott the playoffs. Five other teams decided to do the same. As a result, the playoffs were postponed.
The playoffs resumed a few days later, but only after an agreement was made between the players and leaders of the NBA. The agreement focused on how the NBA would take steps toward fighting for social justice and racial equality. These initial steps would include:
-Immediately starting a social-justice coalition consisting of players, coaches, and leaders of the NBA that will focus on large issues, such as increasing access to voting, working to improve communities, and trying to change the police in a meaningful way.
-Working with election officials to turn NBA-owned arenas into safe polling locations.
-Offering advertising opportunities throughout the playoff season to promote civic engagement and information on how and where to vote.
It’s a promising start, but the hope is that with the support of large and influential organizations, such as the NBA, change will happen in a bigger and more visible way.