NEW YORK – The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) today announced the launch of a new platform, The Justice Movement, and the creation of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council. The collaborative efforts of the League and the Players Association represent an unprecedented and bold new commitment to advancing social justice by the longest standing U.S. sports league for women, as well as the first labor union for professional women athletes. The mission of the Social Justice Council is to be a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues.
In its inaugural season, the Social Justice Council will cultivate designated spaces for community conversations, virtual roundtables, player-produced podcasts, and other activations to address this country’s long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted black and brown communities. With an intentional plan to educate, amplify and mobilize for action, the WNBA and the WNBPA will focus on engaging educators, activists, community and business leaders with players, team and league staff, and fans. With a common goal to build bridges to communities and create sustainable change, the League and the Players Association are committed to continuing this collaborative work at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Official Home of the WNBA 2020 Season.
The work of the Social Justice Council will be led by players like Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally, among others. Those who have proudly stepped up to champion and advise the players include Alicia Garza (Founder, Black Future Labs, political activist, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter), Carolyn DeWitt (CEO, Rock the Vote), and Beverly Bond (Founder/CEO, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! and Celebrity DJ). The expanded list of Social Justice Council members, advisors, and programming will be announced at a later date.
The WNBA will begin its season in late July with a weekend of competition centered around the Black Lives Matter movement, during which teams 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. Throughout the season, players will wear NIKE-branded warm-up shirts that display “Black Lives Matter” on the front. Additionally, “Say Her Name” will adorn the back of the shirts. “Black Lives Matter” will also be prominently displayed on courts during games.
“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,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “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.”
“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,” said WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike. “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.”
As part of The Justice Movement platform, the WNBA and players will continue to work together to drive impactful, measurable and meaningful change.
About the WNBA
The WNBA is a bold, progressive basketball league that stands for the power of women. Featuring 12 teams, the W is a unique sports property that combines competition and entertainment with a commitment to diversity and inclusion and social responsibility. Through its world-class athletes, the in-game fan experience, TV and digital broadcasts, digital and social content and community outreach programs, the league celebrates and elevates the game of basketball and the culture around it.
In 2020, the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association signed a groundbreaking eight-year CBA that charts a new course for women’s basketball – and women’s sports overall – with a focus on increased player compensation, improvements to the player experience, expanded career development opportunities and resources specifically tailored to the female professional athlete. Key elements of the agreement are supported through the league’s new partnership platform, WNBA Changemakers. Inaugural WNBA Changemakers include AT&T, Deloitte and Nike. For more information, visit WNBA.com.
About the Women’s National Basketball Players Association
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) is the union for current women’s professional basketball players in the WNBA. The WNBPA is the first labor union for professional women athletes. It was created in 1998 to protect the rights of players and assist them in achieving their full potential on and off the court. The WNBPA handles the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements (CBA), filing grievances on their behalf, and counseling players on benefits and post-WNBA career opportunities. The new eight-year CBA, which commences with the 2020 season and runs through 2027, provides the foundation to chart a new course for women’s professional basketball. The WNBPA also serves as a resource for current players, while they are competing internationally during the offseason. The WNBPA encourages players to participate in union activities – including executive leadership roles, team representative positions, and global community outreach initiatives.