Basketball legend Michael Jordan has broken his long-held silence on social issues including the gun violence and relations between police-black communities. On Monday he condemned gun violence and donated $1 million each to both the NAACP and the newly created International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Institute for Community-Police Relations in the hopes of improving relations between black communities and the police officers that serve them. The recent wave of attacks against police officers and the shootings of black men by police officers prompted the rare public appearance. Jordan has refused to comment on social issues and has taken the criticism he has received for remaining silent in stride. Jordan’s personal experience with both issues has forced him to speak out.
Jordan’s letter has received an overwhelming response from the media despite being rather moderate. He showed support for police officers while simultaneously criticizing police for the recent shootings of unarmed black men. He also empathized with the victims of the police shootings while condemning the recent attacks against police officers.
Jordan broke his silence in a letter written to the NAACP. He stated that he would be donating $1 million to both the Institute for Community-Police Relations, which was launched in May by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Both groups are dedicated to improving relationships between police and black communities. Jordan attributed his respect for police officers to his parents and upbringing. Stating that his parents taught him to respect all people regardless of race or background and called for others to do the same.
Jordan’s father was shot to death at a highway rest stop in 1993 during a botched carjacking. Daniel Green and friend Larry Demery received life sentences for shooting Jordan’s father in cold blood. He was empathic with families that lost their family members to gun violence and police shootings. He wrote in his letter:
“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
Jordan also took the time to praise police officers and call for an end to the senseless attacks on police officers across the country. He called the attacks cowardly and un-American. He called for a peaceful resolution to the issues both groups are facing. He wrote:
“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.”
Jordan has made great strides for the black community in the business world. He has broken stereotypes by creating and launching some of the most successful black-owned businesses in the country. He hopes that this success transfer to the social sphere, where he can break down barriers between police and black communities to create a more safe and secure America.