With no federal election on the calendar in 2021, More Than A Vote — the voting rights organization comprised of Black athletes and artists — wasn’t simply going to sit on the sidelines.
NBA All-Star weekend in Atlanta, Georgia presented the perfect time and place to reenter the conversation.
“It’s the right moment for maximum impact and it’s the right moment to start our fight anew,” More Than A Vote executive director Addisu Demissie told USA TODAY Sports by phone Thursday.
Earlier this week, the group detailed how it would remain proactive in Georgia, where the state legislature has already proposed legislation to limit voting options, and announced a partnership with the NBA, Players’ Association and Georgia NAACP to highlight these issues throughout the weekend.
On Friday, More Than A Vote formally kicked off its 2021 efforts on a national scale by launching the “Protect Our Power” campaign, while announcing other areas of activism – criminal justice reform, local elections and redistricting – member athletes look forward to participating in this year. To coincide with the launch, More Than A Vote released an opening advertisement narrated by LeBron James that will air during the All-Star Game broadcast on TNT.
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Demissie said “Protect Our Power” is core to More Than A Vote’s mission of combatting voter suppression and turning out Black voters. It will aim to neutralize attempts by some state legislatures – Georgia, specifically, – to make voting more restrictive.
"What we see right now in Georgia is a concerted effort to make it harder for Black people to vote, period," Demissie said. "Everything from making it illegal to take people food and drink in lines – and we know those lines end up in Black communities more than other communities – to eliminating (early) Sunday voting, which is about as an egregious an attempt to stop Black people from voting because of our souls-to-the-polls tradition in our community.”
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