Michael Jordan took an unusual step this week when he said he was “deeply troubled” by the recent deaths of black men at the hands of police. In the past, the Chicago Bulls legend has shied away from activism and political statements.
But black athletes have a rich history of standing against racism and discrimination dating back decades and the tradition continues to the present day.
In 2014, players on the St. Louis Rams ran into the stadium in a “hands up, don’t shoot gesture” and many athletes, including Derrick Rose, wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts to show their outrage over the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.
Last year, the University of Missouri football team demanded the ouster of the school’s president over the way he handled racial tension on campus, and after threatening to boycott a home game, they achieved their goal.
And in just the last month, we’ve seen a protest of police brutality by WNBA players and a stirring speech by four NBA stars at the Espys that touched on the same issue.
Morning Shift talks to Louis Moore, professor of African American history and sports history at Grand Valley State University to put the recent protests and activism by black athletes into historical context.