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Illustration for article titled With Assist From LeBron, Michael Jordan’s Finally Getting Political

Photo: AP

It seems like Michael Jordan is no longer the same guy who infamously made tone-deaf comments like, “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” during avowed racist Sen. Jesse Helms’ re-election campaign.

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Jordan has jumped on board to throw his resources behind voter suppression in light of the upcoming presidential election in November.

The Jordan brand will give away $2.5 million dollars to three organizations — all three organizations are working to register Black voters.

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One million dollars is being donated to the NAACP and Educational Fun Inc. and $1 million to the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement. The Black Voters Matter organization will receive $500,000 according to a statement by Jordan’s company.

This contribution is a part of the $100 million, 10-year pledge the Jordan Brand announced in June to help “fight against systemic racism” focusing on three areas: social justice, economic justice, and education awareness.

“We understand that one of the main ways we can change systemic racism is at the polls,” the Jordan brand said in a statement Thursday.

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You might wonder why His Airness would do this when it seems to be competing with LeBron James’ newly formed group, More than a Vote. It was said that Jordan pushed to get The Last Dance aired earlier this year to remind people that he’s the greatest, not LeBron. Is this another case of his ego pushing him to try to one-up LeBron?

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But actually he’s helping LeBron. In a less-publicized move, Jordan did give $1 million dollars Wednesday to Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the same group that James’ group is supporting.

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Jordan is known for his famous competitive nature but he actually isn’t trying to get one up on LeBron, they are actually doing something for our people — and we can’t be mad at that.

Voter suppression has been an elephant in the room for Black communities for the past five decades. James started his organization in the heat of a racial reckoning the country is experiencing in light of the death of George Floyd. As a country, everyone has a heightened critical lense of examining our institutions — voting being one of them.

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More than a Vote has on-boarded other well known WNBA and NBA stars such as Skylar Diggins-Smith, Udonis Haslem, Trae Young and Renee Montgomery, joining James’ organization to help in any way they can, hosting frequent Instagram Live information sessions about the system of voting and the various veils of voter suppression, etc.

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Throughout the past month, the organization has pushed for NBA arenas to become mass voting sites given their accessibility to public transit and parking garages. So far they’ve had one victory with the Atlanta Hawks arena becoming a new voting precinct for the November elections. They are also working with Philadelphia, Denver and Miami’s arenas to convert them into precincts as well.

Even this week, the group gifted $100,000 to Florida Rights Restoration Coalition — which was founded in 2018 to help Florida ex-felons regain their voting rights — freeing them of the burden of a modern day poll tax masked as “necessary court fees.”

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James has displayed the knowledge of understanding of how the game is played — you are penalized because you are Black and victimized because you are poor.

Jordan isn’t used to following someone else’s lead, but in this case he has, putting his ego aside to catch a pass from James. If this keeps up, they’ll be an unstoppable combination off the court.

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