American world and Olympic champion Allyson Felix has joined a group of other professional athletes and celebrities to found the More Than A Vote campaign, a call to action to fight Black voter suppression. Along with Felix are NBA and WNBA stars like Lebron James and Brittney Griner, rappers, sports analysts and many other Black athletes and artists looking to “educate, energize and protect Black voters.” Following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two Black Americans who were murdered by police, the More Than A Vote founders teamed up to fight for justice and equality in the U.S. and the world.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, especially in the U.S., American President Donald Trump has questioned the validity and security of mail-in voting ahead of November’s presidential election. Because of the coronavirus, experts have forecast that a record number of citizens will use the mail-in voting system in the fall, and many view Trump’s attempts to stop these votes as a ploy to help him win his re-election bid.
The letter on the More Than A Vote website says this is the main issue its founders are concerned with heading into the election season. “As a team we came together to focus on one issue this year: systemic racism’s impact on our right to vote,” the letter reads. “Black voter suppression has many forms. We are focusing on the threat of COVID-19 as a tool of suppression, the abuse of political power to make voting more difficult and the misinformation intended to intimidate and deceive our community.”
The letter, which was signed by Felix and her fellow More Than A Vote founders, also notes that they are “not here to tell you who to vote for.” Instead, the team hopes to attract support and to inform anyone willing to listen — regardless of the direction they lean politically — and to “fight to keep our community from being silenced.” To combat the mail-in suppression, the More Than A Vote team is working to convert “as many arenas and sports facilities as possible into voting precincts,” which are ideal for social distancing, are often in big cities and, for the time being, sitting empty and unused.
Fighting for change
Pursuing social justice and equality issues is not something new to Felix. After her contract with Nike ended in 2017, she spoke up about the lack of support she received from the company when she started a family. In 2019, she testified before the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. Congress to discuss racial disparities in the maternal mortality crisis. Now, a year later, Felix is back fighting for justice, this time with a bigger group beside her. The More Than A Vote letter closes stating that Felix and her co-founders will be joined by more members soon, and that they will seek to “educate, energize and protect Black voters and hold those in power accountable.” To learn more about the campaign, click here.