Voter Suppression Penetrates Florida's NBA Bubble

Pick n Role is a weekly column for SameSide highlighting the social justice work of athletes, teams, leagues and their support structures

September 12, 2020

by Rohan àBeckett

Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash


There seems to be an almost scripted nature to the location of the NBA’s resumed season – taking place at Bay Lake, just outside of Orlando, Florida among the sprawling, socially-distanced facilities of Walt Disney World. The resumed league has placed a multitude of social justice and reform issues at the forefront of its games. The entire league is in a complete lock-step display of unity, as the league is using its platform to spread awareness and lead action in support of much needed systemic change across many issues affecting the country.


Toronto Raptors/via Reuters

Ironically, the bubble is placed in the one geographic region in the country that stands out for its relentless volume of voter suppression tactics that have been carried out in broad daylight for decades. The same exact state where the global basketball universe and its social fight happens to have relocated to: FLORIDA. 

On Friday, the state of Florida won in its latest attempt to suppress the ability of convicted felons to participate in the electoral process. In a Supreme Court ruling, Florida now requires all felons to fully repay all fines, restitution and legal fees resulting from their convictions, prior to their voting rights being fully restored. This ruling marks the end to a multi-year litigation effort by voting-rights advocates, led by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, to allow returning citizens (formerly incarcerated persons) a chance to reclaim their right to vote. Their time has been served, their rehabilitation has been complete; this ruling is simply another attempt to try and continue Jim Crow style tactics to keep certain minorities from gaining equal access to the voting booth.  


A modern day poll tax


LeBron is not the only athlete taking meaningful action off the court to assist in this effort. His own $100,000 donation to the FRRC fund coincides with similar pledges from the Miami Dolphins Social Impact Committee also for $100,000, and Anquan Boldin and the Players Coalition contributed $20,000. The cause is also benefitting from the efforts of none other than His Airness, Michael Jordan – who has previously been less visibly active in causes such as this during his decades long time in the spotlight. MJ and his brand recently announced $100 million would be committed to help Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples and their Families Movement (FICPFM) to combat Black voter suppression. From that Movement, the FRRC will receive $500,000 to its fund.   


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