WNBA players will honor women who have died at the hands of police and in episodes of racial violence when they return to the court later this month for a season dedicated to advancing social justice.
The season will begin in late July with a weekend of competition centered around the Black Lives Matter movement, the WNBA said. Players will wear “special uniforms to seek justice for the women and girls, including Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Vanessa Guillen and many more who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence,” the league said.
Players will wear warmup jerseys throughout the season that read “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. Black Lives Matter will also feature prominently on game courts.
The uniforms reflect the WNBA’s new Social Justice Council. Led by players, the council will work to “address this country’s long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted black and brown communities” as well as holding conversations around other societal issues such as voting rights, LGBTQ advocacy, and gun control, the league said in a statement.
“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 the statement.
She continued: “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.”
Los Angeles Sparks player Nneka Ogwumike, president of the WNBA player’s association, said she believes the movement’s impact will reach around the U.S. and abroad.
“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,” Ogwumike said. “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.”
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