More Than a Vote, the political organization founded by Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, has shifted its focus from the 2020 election to legislation regarding voter access across the country.
James narrates the organization's latest ad that will also air during the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta this weekend. The group's "Protect Our Power" campaign is fighting the Republican-backed bills regarding voter access and rights. There are more than 250 laws in 43 states trying to limit voter access, per the Brennan Center for Justice.
James narrates new More Than A Vote ad
The ad is titled "Look What We Did" and reenergizes viewers by showing the success they made happen with their voices last fall. It shifts to James showing "look what they're doing to silence us."
"Look what we did. Look what we made happen. What our voices made possible," James narrated. "And now, look what they're trying to do to silence us. Using every trick in the book. And attacking democracy itself. Because they saw what we're capable of. And they fear it.
"So this isn't the time to put your feet up. Or to think posting hashtags and black squares is enough. Because for us, this was never about one election. It's always been More Than A Vote."
James and the group released its mission in August 2020 and focused on three threats it said Black Americans face when voting. This advertisement is a continuation of that mission in a year when there isn't a national election to get behind. And it showcases that the group, which includes Patrick Mahomes, A'ja Wilson, Kevin Hart, Renee Montgomery, is about more than the 2020 election cycle.
"We are in a position to let the world know and, in particular, let people who are new to the process or not as engaged with politics know, that these fights around voter suppression don't just take place during an election year," Addisu Demissie, the executive director of More Than A Vote, told CNN.
Ad will premier during NBA All-Star in Atlanta
A 30-second cut of the ad will air during coverage of the All-Star game on Sunday, per CNN. The game is being held in Atlanta, where leaders have worked tirelessly for years to strike down strict voting laws.
The primary election voting lines in Georgia is what initially sparked James to do something about voting suppression.
"What we see right now in Georgia is a concerted effort to make it harder for Black people to vote, period," Demissie said. "Everything from making it illegal to take people food and drink in lines — and we know those lines end up in Black communities more than other communities — to eliminating (early) Sunday voting, which is about as an egregious an attempt to stop Black people from voting because of our souls-to-the-polls tradition in our community.”
There was success on that front in November when Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win there since 1992. It was also where WNBA players helped Raphael Warnock win a Senate race against former Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler, turning the state blue and handing the U.S. Senate to the Democrats.
Former Dream player Renee Montgomery, who opted out of the 2020 season for social justice causes, is part of the team's new ownership group announced last week.
"Black and brown voters changed the game in 2020, so in response, lawmakers are trying to change the rules in 2021," Montgomery said, via CNN. "We know that as athletes and as leaders we have to keep our foot on the gas to protect our power, preserve and expand our voting rights, and to continue turning moments into momentum," she said. "More Than a Vote is just getting started."
NBA working with HBCUs at All-Star
The league announced last month the game would raise funds to benefit historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and COVID-19 care, relief and vaccines.
The courts are HBCU-themed and players will conduct on-court interviews wearing custom Beats headphones designed by Elijah Rutland, a student at Florida A&M University.
The game officials are three HBCU alumni in Tom Washington, Courtney Kirkland and Tony Brown.
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