Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) was thrilled to learn that NBA owner, Hall of Famer and international basketball star, Michael Jordan will be making a $1 million grant to LDF in support of our work to restore and ensure trust between communities and law enforcement across the nation.
“I am so pleased and honored that Michael Jordan will be making this donation to LDF in support of our policing reform efforts,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “It is an act of true leadership that Mr. Jordan has chosen to use his stature to highlight the importance of this issue to all Americans and by taking a personal stance in support of organizations directly engaged in addressing this crisis in our nation. We are grateful for this support, which will allow us to deepen our engagement on the issue of policing reform at this critical time in our country.”
Mr. Jordan, according to his statement, will also be contributing $1 million to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations, which launched in May to execute recommendations made in the report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
LDF has been involved in issues of race and policing since its founding by Thurgood Marshall 76 years ago. In 2014, LDF launched its Race and Policing Reform Campaign in response to high profile police-involved killings throughout the country beginning with the death of Eric Garner in New York. Our work is focused on ensuring that federal government funds to police departments are used to support critical training and reforms to end racial bias and to promote best practices for 21st century policing. LDF works with communities in Ferguson, North Charleston, Baltimore, and New York City who are engaged in efforts to promote transformative policing practices in their communities. LDF also focuses our efforts on ensuring that accountability measures and the rule of law are applied to instances of bias and illegal conduct in policing. LDF engages in dialog directly with law enforcement leaders and prosecutors to encourage and promote reform efforts.
“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. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.
“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. 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.
“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.
“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.
“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.