Basketball legend Michael Jordan on Monday condemned recent police shootings of minorities and attacks on law enforcement officers, announcing that he would donate $2 million towards improving police-community relations.
“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late,” Jordan wrote in a letter posted on The Undefeated. “I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.”
The former Chicago Bulls star said his personal experience with “senseless” violence made these issues hit even closer to home. Jordan’s father was murdered at a North Carolina rest stop in 1993 by two teenagers attempting a robbery.
Jordan pledged $1 million to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.
He said the donations were only a starting point in addressing decades of fraught relations between police and minority communities, but that he hoped they would “help both organizations make a positive difference.”
Jordan’s announcement comes weeks after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were fatally shot by police officers, and a gunman killed five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.
Jordan, who is the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and has been a Nike spokesperson for years, gained a reputation for keeping quiet on political issues during his three decades in the public eye.
Read his full letter below.
As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.
I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.
Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.
To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.
We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.
Correction: The original post erroneously identified Jordan as a member of the New York Knicks.
- Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
- Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism