Michael Jordan isn’t known for being vocal about political or social issues, making his most recent move a surprising one.
The former basketball player and the only African American to own an NBA franchise wrote a letter addressing the issue of police violence against people of color, published exclusively on The Undefeated. He expressed his feelings about the situation, relating to it with his own personal experience, and announced a $2 million donation to help the cause.
“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,” the athlete wrote. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
Jordan will be donating $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The fund was established in 1940 as a branch of the NAACP, but separated from the organization in 1957. It works towards making advancements in civil rights by going through the legal system. He will be donating an additional $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police relations, which was established in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Jordan wrote that he knows the contributions alone won’t solve anything, but he hopes that it will “help both organizations make a positive difference.”
This comes as tensions between black communities and law enforcement continue to grow, particularly following the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in Minnesota. As police violence against African Americans persists, some have taken to retaliating against law enforcement. Though this has been an issue for countless years, it appears to have come into the spotlight recently with celebrities speaking out on highly publicized platforms, including Jesse Williams at the BET Awards and Lebron James, alongside a number of other athletes, at the ESPYs.
Jordan has previously donated to political campaigns, including Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, but he generally doesn’t open up publicly about his political opinions. “I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent,” he writes. “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.”