MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A return to the playoffs is on for the NBA, but not without several tense days of reflection and negotiation.
The NBA Players voted to return to the court this weekend after coming close to ending the post-season in the wake of the shooting of another black man by police, who was shot seven times in the back, this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
All major league sports canceled games or matches as well, but it was the NBA’s initial move that caught the attention of the Memphis based National Civil Rights Museum.
“It’s hot as it can be right now,” Faith Morris, marketing and external affairs chief for NCRM, said. “I don’t know in my lifetime, we’ve been mad. We’ve been upset. See, it’s not just black folks being upset, folks that care anything about anybody are being upset about what’s going on.”
Morris grew up in Memphis and has been around long enough to remember the Civil Rights activism of the 1960s, and is saddened by the fact the social inequality that brought out the March on Washington 57 years ago has morphed into pleas for police and armed vigilantes to stop killing black people in the streets of American cities.
“They never get to go to trial,” Morris said. “They never get to, y’know, there’s something that happens between them and jail that is really becoming such an issue, that we’ve got to make a bigger stand. This country has got to do something about it.”
That’s where the NBA and its players have come in.
The players took the unprecedented action of boycotting Playoff games Thursday and Friday in protest of the killings, using the biggest platform they possess to make America pay attention to its problem.
“And the loudest voices that we have, the strongest voices that we have, the strongest structures that we have, the most powerful pressure that this nation can put on it, you know, has to get together and that is what’s happening right now. It is happening in so many ways, and the NBA is stepping up in a way that we haven’t seen anybody step up yet,” Morris said.
As a result, the NBA and the Players’ Association, reached a signed agreement which includes several initiatives to lead toward racial equality.
One is to form a social justice coalition that will be made up of players, coaches, and governors to improve voting access, civic engagement, along with police reform.
It wants every franchise that owns, and/or operates the arena they play in to work with local election commissioners to make arenas a public polling place for the 2020 general election.
The Grizzlies reached out to the Shelby County election commission about using the FedExForum in June.
Finally, it will work with players and tv networks to create more advertising during the NBA playoffs to raise awareness about voting.