With a renewed focus on the plight of Black women being the victims of police brutality, it was only appropriate that #SayHerName be the focus of this year’s New York Liberty UNITY panel prior to its annual UNITY game.
The Liberty were scheduled to play the Dallas Wings on Thursday Aug. 27 for this year’s UNITY game, but it was one of several contests postponed as a result of WNBA players protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Liberty will stream a virtual panel that will featured its veteran guard Layshia Clarendon – who is a member of the WNBA’s social justice committee. Brittany Packnett Cunningham moderated the panel that also included Sharon Cooper (sister of Sandra Bland) and Nakisha Lewis – a social justice advocate.
It also featured an original song by Akinyemi, a Queens Village native and New York artist.
The Liberty will also be selling its Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter shirts that have been worn by players and coaches this season. New York coach Walt Hopkins has become known throughout the WNBA community for his frequent wearing of the Black Trans Lives Matter shirts. Proceeds will benefit the Breonna Taylor Foundation.
Keia Clarke, the Liberty’s recently appointed CEO, is also on the WNBA social justice committee.
And if one needed any proof that Joe and Clara Wu Tsai are about that life….
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 25, 2020
The Liberty’s owners are pledging $50 million over 10 years to support social justice and economic initiatives that will benefit people of color – with a particular emphasis on the team’s home base of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn has long been a place where people of many different origins can engage in dialogue and find common ground, and we have seen the best example of that at the plaza in front of Barclays Center. Today, we present the framework for how we plan to accomplish the goals of justice and equality.
–Joe Tsai (release)
He was referring to earlier in the year when Barclays became a site for Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police.
The Tsais unveiled its five-point plan, which includes the $50 million pledge. Other pillars of the plan include the Liberty and Nets amplifying the voices of their athletes, strengthening a commitment to a diverse and inclusive work culture with the Liberty, Nets and Barclays Center, the Tsais using their influence within the WNBA and NBA for further developing of diversity and anti-racism programs, and further community engagement and dialogue – including making Barclays Center a site for future peaceful gatherings.