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NAACP urges athletes to avoid signing with Texas teams over strict abortion, election integrity laws

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In a highly politicized publicity stunt, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released an open letter to all professional sports players’ associations, imploring professional athletes to avoid signing contracts in the state of Texas due to their recent legislation on abortion and voter integrity.

“We must stand up for what is right and protect our loved ones from the dangerous attacks on freedoms taking place in Texas,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson in a press release.

The letter was signed by Johnson and NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe and was given to a number of national athletic organizations including the National Basketball Players Association, National Football League Players Association, Major League Baseball Players Association, Women’s National Basketball Player’s Association, and National Hockey League Players’ Association.

“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,” read the letter.

The letter was critical of Texas’ pandemic response, recent legislation related to voter integrity as well as Texas’ recent “Heartbeat Bill” which banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat could be detected – around six weeks into the pregnancy – and provided citizens direct access to sue abortion providers who assisted such abortions.

“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.”

The letter detailed their dissent to the voting legislation and political maps indicating that “These laws are intended to suppress our constitutional right to vote.”
However, a recent poll seemed to confirm that an overwhelming majority of Americans support a requirement to show government-issued photo identification in order to vote.

“The continued attacks on people of color in the state of Texas are reprehensible,” Bledsoe said in the press release. “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.”

The letter concludes with a plea for free agents to choose anywhere over Texas due to the recent laws they admonished.

“Texas lawmakers have destroyed the state’s moral compass by passing these laws. In return, we are asking that you seek employment with sports teams located in states that will protect, honor and serve your families with integrity.”

“We are now pleading with you — If you are a free agent and are considering employment in Texas, look elsewhere. The Texas government will not protect your family,” the letter concluded. “Demand that Texas owners invest in your rights and protect your investments. Texas is not safe for you, your spouse, or your children. Until the legislation is overturned, Texas isn’t safe for anyone.”

Ashley Hill

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