NAACP Urges Professional Athletes In Free Agency to Avoid Texas

letter to the National Players' Leagues, urging free agents to reconsider moving their families to a state that is not safe for
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Photo: NAACP

In response to the most recent attacks on voting rights and reproductive care, the Association sent an open letter to the National Players' Leagues, urging free agents to reconsider moving their families to a state that is not safe for anyone.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson:

"We must stand up for what is right and protect our loved ones from the dangerous attacks on freedoms taking place in Texas."

Thursday, the NAACP sent a letter to every professional sports players' association in the country, urging its free agents to reconsider signing contracts in Texas. This unprecedented move comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved new political maps that dilute the political power of communities of color.

Signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe, the letter was delivered to the National Football League Players Association, Women's National Basketball Player's Association, National Basketball Players Association, Major League Baseball Players Association, and National Hockey League Players' Association.

The letter calls on athletes to consider not only their influential platforms as professional athletes, but as parents and role models for our children and those in their personal lives.

"As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children and marginalized communities," write the authors. "Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman's freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus. If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas. If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas."

"When all else fails, we must look within and answer the call to protect the basic human rights and democratic values which are fundamental to this country" said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP. "Professional athletes serve as some of our country's greatest role models and we need them to join us to fight for democracy."

Over the past few months, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law extreme voting laws to severely restrict the right to vote, empowered vigilantes with the authority of the law to restrict women's freedom to make choices about their bodies, and has most recently codified redistricting maps that aim to disenfranchise Black, brown, and Latinx voters. Recently released data from the 2020 census shows that people of color have driven 95% of the Texas population growth.

"The continued attacks on people of color in the state of Texas are reprehensible," said Gary Bledsoe, President of the Texas NAACP. "In the absence of federal action, advocates in Texas must stand together and use all of the tools at their disposal to ensure that basic human rights are delivered to the people of Texas. We must fight for our Constitution and the freedoms that it guarantees to all Americans."

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