Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull
As February starts, America once again begins to deepen the focus of attention and recognition for the many contributions Black people of all talents have made to our society.
In recent years, the fury spawned from the injustices of the racial divide has erupted around the country and the world. These eruptions leave February to be a month of recentering and deepening the importance of pivotal people and what they contributed to the transformation of their race in society.
Black athletes cannot be ignored in this transformation. The are many prominent Black athletes who are household names like Kobi Bryant, Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams, Bill Russell, and Jesse Owens, these people have made a massive impact toward helping the world get to the place it is today.
But what about the countless numbers of athletes whose names are not known? These people are no less important to the movement toward racial equality throughout society. Some of these people whose stories have not been as widely spread are Lisa Leslie, Maya Moore, Colin Kaepernick, and Jim Brown.
Maya Moore played in the WNBA and played her last season in 2018. She left the WNBA to focus on activism. She fought mostly for social justice. She began showing her frustration with the racial biases of the legal system and law enforcement and used her notoriety to fight for a wrongly imprisoned black man named Jonathan Irons.
Colin Kaepernick was a Black athlete that played for the NFL. He made his impact on the black community during the 2016 NFL season when he knelt during the national anthem. This was to protest the fact that the county had oppressed black people for many years. He did not want to show any pride toward a flag that had that type of history behind it. Kaepernick’s athletic career was sacrificed as he laid this path for other Black athletes to follow with his demonstration of athletic activism.
Jim Brown was also an NFL player, he played from 1957 through 1965 and worked to bring black athletes from many different sports together. He played during a time when African Americans were extremely mistreated and oppressed. With his time playing football he was able to challenge discrimination and is also thought of as the greatest running back to ever play in the NFL. He did many other things to help the Black community and he is still a civil rights activist to this day.
There are many athletes who have spoken out using athletic success to empower their words and their actions to help the black community. They have helped to make a difference even with the challenges that black people continue to suffer. It is important to recognize the brave gestures and open minds to understand the work is not done.