The WNBA dedicated its 2020 season to social justice.
The league and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association on Monday announced a new platform, The Justice Movement, and the creation of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council as ways to advance social justice, both parties said in a news release.
During the season, which is scheduled to begin later this month at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, players will wear special uniforms to seek justice for women and girls, such as Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Vanessa Guillen, who "have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence," the news release said.
Players also will wear warm-up shirts with "Black Lives Matter" on the front and "Say Her Name" on the back. Like NBA courts for its restart, WNBA courts will have the words "Black Lives Matter" displayed on courts during games.
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"As many WNBA players — past and present — have said and, more importantly, consistently demonstrated, the reason why you see us engaging and leading the charge when it comes to social advocacy is because it is in our DNA," WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said in a statement. "With 140-plus voices all together for the first time ever, we can be a powerful force connecting to our sisters across the country and in other parts of the world. And may we all recognize that the league’s stated commitment to us — in this season and beyond — offers a pivotal moment in sports history."
The Social Justice Council will be "a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues."
"In its inaugural season, the Social Justice Council will cultivate designated spaces for community conversations, virtual roundtables, player-produced podcasts, and other activations to address this country’s long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted black and brown communities," according to the news release.
Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and A’ja Wilson are among the players who will have leadership roles on the Council.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, Rock the Vote CEO Carolyn DeWitt and founder and CEO of Black Girls Rock! Beverly Bond will advise the council.
"Systemic change can’t happen overnight, but it is our shared responsibility to do everything we can to raise awareness and promote the justice we hope to see in society," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
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