The NAACP sent a letter Thursday to the players’ associations of professional sports leagues, challenging free agents to not sign with teams based in Texas due to “dangerous attacks on freedoms” in the state.
The letter was issued to the National Football League Players Association, Women’s National Basketball Player’s Association, National Basketball Players Association, Major League Baseball Players Association and National Hockey League Players’ Association, and was signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe.
“As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children and marginalized communities,” the letter read, according to a news release from the NAACP.
— NAACP (@NAACP) October 28, 2021
“Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman’s freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus. If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas. If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas,” it added.
Johnson called the effort an attempt to “protect basic human rights” and “democratic values.”
“When all else fails, we must look within and answer the call to protect the basic human rights and democratic values which are fundamental to this country,” Johnson wrote.
“Professional athletes serve as some of our country’s greatest role models and we need them to join us to fight for democracy,” he added.
The news release explained that the two issues the NAACP opposes include the state’s new voting rights law and abortion restriction law.
“Over the past few months, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law extreme voting laws to severely restrict the right to vote, empowered vigilantes with the authority of the law to restrict women’s freedom to make choices about their bodies,” the statement said.
“The continued attacks on people of color in the state of Texas are reprehensible,” Bledsoe, who leads the NAACP in Texas, wrote.
“In the absence of federal action, advocates in Texas must stand together and use all of the tools at their disposal to ensure that basic human rights are delivered to the people of Texas. We must fight for our Constitution and the freedoms that it guarantees to all Americans,” he added.
The Texas abortion restriction bill, which took effect on Sept. 1, restricts abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat that usually occurs at about six weeks of pregnancy.
The law has been heavily protested and has faced numerous legal challenges. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on Nov. 1.
The voting rights bill battle took place during the summer, as most Texas Democrats fled the state for Washington, D.C., to avoid voting on a bill they believed would limit the voting rights of some constituents.
The bill was eventually passed. Similar voting reform bills have been passed in other Republican-led states, with Democrats now seeking to pass new voting rights legislation in Congress.
No players have yet announced plans to leave Texas following the release of the NAACP letter.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.