Los Angeles Lakers star and former Kia MVP LeBron James is focused on helping prevent vote suppression of African-Americans by teaming with other athletes and celebrities to start a new voting rights group.
According to The New York Times and Reuters, James is starting a group called More Than a Vote, which will be focused on educating and protecting black voters while also energizing more to show up at polls for the Nov. 3 election.
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us -- we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James told The New York Times on Wednesday. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports some of the notable names on board include the Milwaukee Bucks' Eric Bledsoe, the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green, the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, the Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem as well as Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints), Sam Perkins, Jalen Rose, Kendrick Perkins and Stephen Jackson (former NBA players), Skylar Diggins-Smith (WNBA) and comedian Kevin Hart.
The plan for More Than a Vote comes at a time when Americans are concerned about foreign influence in elections and the COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about voting safety and voter suppression.
“There will be an active campaign of suppression,” a person familiar with James’ efforts told Reuters. “These athletes are the most trusted members of their communities.”
James told The New York Times he plans to use his vast presence on social media to combat voter suppression and plans to be vocal about any attempts to restrict voting rights for racial minorities.
“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told the newspaper. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”
On Tuesday, many people across the U.S. waited hours to vote in person in Georgia's primary elections. That was especially true in counties with large black populations in and around Atlanta.
Per ESPN, the More Than a Vote idea was born by James after the anger and frustration he felt following the death of George Floyd last month. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was handcuffed and unarmed as a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes despite several pleas that he could not breathe.
Since that took place on May 25, the NBA, its teams, coaches, players and executives have expressed their outrage over his death via protests, social media posts and other means. Several players -- including Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Damian Lillard and others -- have either taken part in or led protests in various cities across the U.S.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.