WNBA announces 2020 season is dedicated to social justice

League says it will tackle race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy and more

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 26: Nneka Ogwumike #30 of the Los Angeles Sparks drives to the basket against A'ja Wilson (L) #22 and Dearica Hamby #5 of the Las Vegas Aces during their game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 26, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images )

NEW YORK – The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) announced Monday the launch of a new platform, “The Justice Movement,” and the creation of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council.

The collaborative efforts of the League and the Players Association represent a new commitment to advancing social justice by the longest standing U.S. sports league for women, as well as the first labor union for professional women athletes.

The mission of the Social Justice Council is to be a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues.

In its inaugural season, the Social Justice Council is expected to 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.

With an intentional plan to educate, amplify and mobilize for action, the WNBA and the WNBPA said they will focus on engaging educators, activists, community and business leaders with players, team and league staff, and fans.

With a common goal to build bridges to communities and create sustainable change, the League and the Players Association said they are committed to continuing this collaborative work at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Official Home of the WNBA 2020 Season.

Players will lead Justice Council

The work of the Social Justice Council will be led by players such as Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally, among others.

Those who have proudly stepped up to champion and advise the players include Alicia Garza (Founder, Black Future Labs, political activist, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter), Carolyn DeWitt (CEO, Rock the Vote), and Beverly Bond (Founder/CEO, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! and Celebrity DJ).

The expanded list of Social Justice Council members, advisors, and programming will be announced at a later date.

The WNBA will begin its season in late July with a weekend of competition centered around the Black Lives Matter movement, during which teams will wear special uniforms to seek justice for the women and girls, including Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Vanessa Guillen and many more who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence.

Players to wear social justice messages

Throughout the season, players will wear NIKE-branded warm-up shirts that display “Black Lives Matter” on the front. Additionally, “Say Her Name” will adorn the back of the shirts. “Black Lives Matter” will also be prominently displayed on courts during games.

“We are incredibly proud of WNBA players who continue to lead with their inspiring voices and effective actions in the league’s dedicated fight against systemic racism and violence,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

“As many WNBA players–past and present–have said and, more importantly, consistently demonstrated, the reason why you see us engaging and leading the charge when it comes to social advocacy is because it is in our DNA,” said WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike.

The season will begin later this month at IMG Academy in Florida.

Read more: WNBA set to begin season in late July: Here’s what to know

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