LeBron James wears a safety pin on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

LeBron James Addresses Racial Issues as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year

By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio

Cleveland Cavaliers star forward LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year for the second time. He is the second athlete to receive the recognition twice.

James used the honor as a platform to address social justice issues — not only in his acceptance speech but also in his photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated. For the photo James wore a safety pin on his shirt. The safety pin has become a silent but important political symbol since the election. According to The New York Times:

LeBron James wears a safety pin on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

“After the election of Donald J. Trump, fears are growing that segments of his base may physically or emotionally abuse minorities, immigrants, women and members of the L.G.B.T. community. As a show of support, groups of people across America are attaching safety pins to their lapels, shirts and dresses to signify that they are linked, willing to stand up for the vulnerable.”

Related Story: LeBron James, Other Cavaliers Players Refuse to Stay at Trump SoHo

James has been vocal when it comes to political and social justice issues. And in his speech on Monday, he acknowledged the athletes who were also activists that allowed him to be as successful as he is today.

“This award is for the great Muhammad Ali, for Bill Russell, for Jim Brown, for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, because at the end of the day I’m not standing up here if you four gentleman, Kareem, Jim Brown, Muhammad, Bill, sit at that table in the 1960’s, and it wasn’t about you guys. It wasn’t about you guys; the most four dominant athletes at that time didn’t care what happened to them. They sacrificed everything that could have happened to them. [They] could have been stripped of everything that they’ve accomplished to that point,” James said.

“But their calling and their reasoning for doing what they had to do was for a night like tonight,” he continued. “That in 2016, in Brooklyn, New York, that we all can sit up here as African Americans, as white Americans, as Mexicans … that we all could sit in one room and just say wow, this is an unbelievable night, in not only sports but in life. So as I stand up here, as the recipient of the 2016 Sportsman of the Year, this isn’t about me. This is much bigger than me.”

“It’s never about the individual,” James added. “It’s always about the people behind him. It’s always about the people that’s behind the camera. It’s always about the people that [don’t] get the credit. It’s always about the people that always sacrifice what they think or what they believe they could be doing with their lives for the better of the individual.”

James has often spoke out regarding justice issues. Last week he and some of his fellow teammates refused to stay at the Trump SoHo hotel in New York while they were in town to play the New York Knicks. (Alternate arrangements were made for the players who do not want to stay at Trump SoHo, which bears Trump’s name through a licensing agreement although he does not own the hotel.)

Related Story: LeBron James Endorses Hillary Clinton: Will Other Millennials Follow His Lead

During the election James endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying, “We need a president who brings us together and keeps us unified,” and “Policies and ideas that divide us more are not the solution.”

Over the summer, James and other high profile basketball players used the ESPY awards ceremony in Los Angeles as a platform for social justice.

“We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence,” James said. “But that’s not acceptable. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘What are we doing to create change'”

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

Latest News

Parents protest over Critical Race Theory education in schools

Florida Legislature Issues Initial Approval of Bill That Would Prohibit White ‘Discomfort’ During Black History Education

Even though the Florida Department of Education has already banned the classroom teaching of Critical Race Theory, lawmakers in the state are attempting to go even further, passing a law to protect whites’ “feelings” during education dealing with Black history.  Amy Simonson of CNN reported that a bill backed by…

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Under Fire for Claiming Black Americans Are Not ‘Americans’

As the battle to protect voting rights continues in the nation’s capital — sadly with little success — veteran politician and minority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, has come under fire for a statement he made that implied Black Americans were not “full” Americans. Bruce Schreiner of The…

Toyota Earns the Most R&D Patents Among Automakers in IPO Rankings for 8th Consecutive Year

Originally published at pressroom.toyota.com. Toyota ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Toyota more patents than any other automaker in 2021, according to an annual ranking by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Toyota’s engineers…

Wells Fargo Announces New Initiative To Help Customers Avoid Overdraft Fees and Meet Short-Term Cash Needs

Originally published at newsroom.wf.com. Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo announced new efforts to limit overdraft-related fees and give customers more flexible options to meet their personal financial needs. These offerings, which include earlier access to direct deposits,…