WNBA Players Walk Off the Court During National Anthem as They Dedicate Season to Breonna Taylor
The WNBA chose to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as they kicked off the 2020 season on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During the season opener between the Seattle Storm and the New York Liberty, all members from both teams walked off the court during the national anthem and returned to their respective locker rooms at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
In addition, the players held a 26-second moment of silence for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police officers inside her home on March 13.
"We are dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor, an outstanding EMT who was murdered over 130 days ago in her home,” Liberty point guard Layshia Clarendon said at mid-court alongside Storm star Breanna Stewart. “Breonna Taylor was dedicated and committed to uplifting everyone around here."
Clarendon added, "We are also dedicating this season to ‘Say Her Name’ campaign, a campaign committed to saying the names and fighting for justice of black women – black women are so often forgotten in this fight for justice, who don’t have people marching in the streets for them."
“We will be a voice for the voiceless," she promised.
Taylor’s full name appeared on the back of both teams’ jerseys during Saturday’s game as part of a campaign that honors female victims of police violence, including Sandra Bland and Vanessa Guillen.
Also on Saturday, the Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Phoenix Mercury in their season opener. Sparks stars Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker as well as Mercury's Skylar Diggins-Smith focused on social justice ahead of their game, using their voices to raise awareness.
Earlier this month, the WNBA announced that “Black Lives Matter” will be prominently displayed on its courts during games this season.
“Working together with the WNBPA [players' association] and the teams, the league aims to highlight players’ social justice efforts throughout the 2020 season and beyond," league commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in the league's statement. "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.”
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.