The new nonprofit, called More Than a Vote, hopes to seize the wave of unrest over racial injustice that is sweeping the nation, James told The New York Times Wednesday. It will focus on registering African Americans to vote and motivate them to head to the polls on Election Day.
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” Mr. James said in a phone interview with the Times on Wednesday.
“How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
Joining James will be past and present NBA greats like Jalen Rose and Trae Young and the WNBA’s Skylar Diggins-Smith, the Times reported.
James, 35, has been outspoken on social and political issues during much of his professional career, but the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was a sign that he needed to go further, he said, invoking the names of socially conscious sports icons like Mohammad Ali, Kareem Adbul-Jabar and Oscar Robinson during his interview.
“Hopefully, someday down the line, people will recognize me not only for the way I approached the game of basketball, but the way I approached life as an African-American man,” James told the Times.
More Than a Vote will also focus on calling out how people in power are trying to stifle voter turnout among African Americans, James added.
“Everyone talking about ‘how do we fix this?’ They say ‘go out and vote?’ What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?” James tweeted Tuesday in reference to the long lines voters in Georgia faced during their primary.
Rose told the Times the group hopes to address a drop-off in young African American voters during the 2016 election, calling Floyd’s killing a flashpoint akin to the lynching of Emmett Till.
“I’m sick of seeing unarmed black men killed by the police,” Diggins-Smith, a Phoenix Mercury guard, told the Times, adding she wanted “to put some action behind my frustrations, behind my anger, behind the helplessness that I’ve been feeling.”