WNBA star and Baltimore native Angel McCoughtry announced Monday that she is working with the league to allow players to put the names of victims of police brutality on their jerseys when the season begins in late July.
“I am currently working with the @lvaces and @wnba to use our voices, our uniforms, and our sport to continue to impact and create real change,” McCoughtry wrote in an Instagram post, sharing a photo of her No. 35 Las Vegas Aces jersey with the name Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot in her home by Louisville police officers in March. “I am creating a petition to allow players the ability to put the FIRST & LAST NAME of HUMAN BEINGS that who have been injured or KILLED in incidents involving POLICE BRUTALITY! Even Front line workers during the pandemic.
“The goal is also to create a relationship with the families of who’s name the athlete has chosen. This is a way to use our platform to be a helping hand during these trying times.
“Silence is an ally for EVIL and when sports resume WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.”
McCoughtry also started a #SayTheirNames Jersey Campaign online petition that has been signed by more than 1,600 people as of Wednesday afternoon.
“In an effort to promote racial equality, I have created a petition to encourage players to use their uniform as a platform to promote the names of men and women of color who were injured or killed in incidents involving police brutality,” McCoughtry wrote. “Let’s use our voices, our platforms, and our sport for change.”
McCoughtry, a former standout at St. Frances and Louisville, signed as a free agent with the Aces this offseason after spending 10 seasons with the Atlanta Dream, who selected her with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. The five-time All-Star suffered a knee injury in August 2018 and did not play last season, but said she will compete in the league’s 22-game season in Bradenton, Florida, that has been shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Other WNBA players have also spoken out after the death of Taylor, George Floyd and others sparked national protests. The Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery and the Washington Mystics’ Natasha Cloud have declined to participate in the 2020 season to pursue social justice reforms. Seattle Storm star Sue Bird co-hosted the ESPY Awards on Sunday and called for social justice and the embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement during an opening monologue alongside Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
“We’re playing for all of those women who don’t get to be seen because we’re a league that that’s fighting for representation,” Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike said via The Undefeated. “Just as the men are out here leading the way when it comes to protests, so are women. And we have to do double the work to make sure the Breonna Taylors get justice as well.”