In June, we noted that Michael Jordan and Nike’s Jordan Brand were collaborating to donate $100 million over 10 years for social justice causes, and that this represented a notable departure from Jordan’s “Republicans buy sneakers too” mantra. Today, Jordan and Nike announced the first three recipients of funding:
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. ($1 million)
- Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement ($1 million)
- Black Voters Matter ($500,000)
“I’m all in with Jordan Brand, the Jordan family and our partners, who share a commitment to address the historical inequality that continues to plague Black communities in the U.S.,” Jordan said in the release. “There is a long history of oppression against Black Americans that holds us back from full participation in American society. We understand that one of the main ways we can change systemic racism is at the polls. We know it will take time for us to create the change we want to see, but we are working quickly to take action for the Black community’s voice to be heard.”
The whole world has obviously been changing as well, but this pivot has some roots in the Last Dance documentary when Jordan publicly admitted for the first time that he did indeed once say that Republicans buy sneakers too.
During his playing career and for most of the time in the decades since, Jordan carefully stayed away from affiliation with activist causes. The example that stuck out the most was when Jordan opted not to endorse Harvey Gantt against the segregationist Jesse Helms in the 1990 North Carolina senate race.