WNBA Players to Wear Jerseys with Names of Women Killed by Racial Violence, Including Breonna Taylor
When the WNBA kicks off its season later this month, players will wear special uniforms honoring women like Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland and will have “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” emblazoned on their warm-up shirts.
The changes come as part of a league-wide push to better support social justice causes, the WNBA announced on Monday.
The 2020 season, which will be played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, will begin with a competition centered around the Black Lives Matter movement.
During the competition, players will wear uniforms in honor of Taylor, Bland, Vanessa Guillen and more “who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence.”
Then, throughout the season, the players will wear Nike warm-up shirts with “Black Lives Matter” written on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back.
“Black Lives Matter” will also be prominently displayed on the courts during games.
“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.
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Along with the jersey changes, the WNBA announced a new platform called The Justice Movement — which aims to amplify the players’ voices and leadership — as well as the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council.
The council will be led by players including Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally. They’ll have a slew of advisers on hand, too, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, Rock the Vote CEO Carolyn DeWitt and BLACK GIRLS ROCK! CEO and founder Beverly Bond.
According to the league, the 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.”
Players across the WNBA have been fighting for an increased focus on racial equality and social justice, and players like Renee Montgomery and Natasha Cloud have opted to sit out the season in order to better focus on the cause, according to ESPN.
Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore also opted to sit out the 2020 season to dedicate herself to social justice. She recently helped free a man who was wrongfully incarcerated for 20 years.
“May we all recognize that the league’s stated commitment to us — in this season and beyond — offers a pivotal moment in sports history,” WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said in a statement.