The WNBA has agreed to allow players to honor women and girls who have been victims of racial and/or police violence – like Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland and Vanessa Guillen – to seek justice for them and bring awareness to their stories.
Angel McCoughtry, who played at Louisville, the same city where Taylor was killed by police, originally brought up the idea with her #SayTheirNames campaign, urging the WNBA to let its players put the names of police brutality victims on their jerseys “in an effort to promote racial equality,” she wrote in her Change.org petition.
Jerseys will specifically feature Taylor, the WNBA told ESPN.
Lonita Baker, the attorney for Taylor’s family, told Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN that the family appreciates the WNBA’s moves.
“Breonna’s mom [Tamika Palmer] was very honored the players wanted to do this in honor of Breonna and all the other women killed in police custody,” Baker said. “And also that proceeds from the sales of the jerseys will go to the Breonna Taylor Foundation.”
Additionally, “Black Lives Matter” will be displayed on the front of all teams’ warm-up shirts, and “Say Her Name” will be written on the backs. “Black Lives Matter” will also be written on courts during games, per release.
“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,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “Working together with the WNBPA and the teams, the league aims to highlight players’ social justice efforts throughout the 2020 season and beyond. Systemic change can’t happen overnight, but it is our shared responsibility to do everything we can to raise awareness and promote the justice we hope to see in society.”
These moves are part of a greater initiative the WNBA is trying to push called “The Justice Movement.” Some of its other aspects include the creation of a Social Justice Council, with Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Satou Sabally, A’ja Wilson and more leading it.
“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,” WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said in a statement. “With 140-plus voices all together for the first time ever, we can be a powerful force connecting to our sisters across the country and in other parts of the world. And may we all recognize that the league’s stated commitment to us – in this season and beyond – offers a pivotal moment in sports history.”