Women Athletes Have Been Leaders in the Fight for Justice

For every Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr. in this country’s history, there is a Delores Huerta and Ella Baker. Women have always been involved in the struggle for justice and civil rights, even though they often do so without the kind of acclaim that is afforded to men.

That is why it comes as no surprise that before Colin Kaepernick burst onto the public stage, there was a Maya Moore leading the charge.

Here’s the story:

On July 9 [2016], four members of the Minnesota Lynx — a dynasty on par with the Warriors — held a pre-game press conference to talk about police violence in the wake of the killing of Philando Castile by a Minneapolis-area officer and Alton Sterling by two Baton Rouge, Louisiana, officers. The four members of the Lynx — Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, and Rebekkah Brunson — wore black shirts with the phrase “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability.”

Even though, as you can see from the video of that news conference up above, the players denounced violence against police, four Minneapolis officers left their posts as security during Lynx games as a result. Nevertheless, they persisted. WNBA players began wearing plain black t-shirts during their warm-ups, were fined for doing so by the league, and protested until that decision was reversed. Players also continued to #takeaknee.

While everyone was focused on the NFL pre-game protests after Trump’s tirade in Alabama, this was the scene at the first WNBA playoff game on Sunday.

Here’s what WNBA president Lisa Borders had to say about it all:

“Our players are some of the most socially conscious that you will ever find,” she continued. “You have seen that in the years before I got here and I’m sure it will continue in the future.”…

“America is a democracy but this is an experiment that has worked better than anywhere else in the world, but it is an experiment,” she said. “And we work to perfect the union everyday. So we want to part of a constructive dialogue. Our players have been working in our communities, not just this year or last year. This has been an ongoing effort by the WNBA since our inception.”

In this country we don’t pay as much attention to female athletes as we do to their male counterparts. That is why this story has largely gone unnoticed—and why I wanted to do my small part by writing about it. As it has been throughout our history, women are leading the way in the fight for justice.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .