The WNBA and its union have agreed to feature the names of women who have died in connection to police action or alleged racial violence — such as Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Vanessa Guillen — when the league resumes play this month.
WNBA players will also wear warm-up shirts that say “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. “Black Lives Matter” will also be featured prominently on the courts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The moves, announced Monday after ESPN first reported the news, are part of a joint platform to promote social justice called “The Justice Movement” as the WNBA begins its season.
As part of this initiative, the WNBA will form a Social Justice Council that will be led by players Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally, among others. Advisers to the council include Alicia Garza, the founder of Black Future Labs, a political activist, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter; Carolyn DeWitt, CEO of Rock the Vote; and Beverly Bond, the founder and CEO of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!
The Social Justice Council will create community conversations, virtual roundtables, player-produced podcasts, and other activations to address inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted Black and brown communities.
Players have insisted that the fight for racial equality and social justice be a central part of the NBA’s return to play and the WNBA’s new season. Several NBA players considered skipping the NBA resumption to focus on social justice issues. Several WNBA players, including Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream and Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics, are sitting out the WNBA season to focus on social justice.
Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore sat out the previous season while advocating for the release of a Black man whom she felt had been wrongly convicted of burglary. Jonathan Irons was freed after 23 years in prison last week.