Lifting Their Voices
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has inspired generations to speak out for social justice, and the events of 2020 moved many – including athletes – to elevate their voices in support of the causes to which King dedicated his life.
One of those athletes was NASCAR's only Black full-time driver, Bubba Wallace, who utilized his platform to lead the charge for the banning of the Confederate flag in the sport last year, following the killing of George Floyd.
Wallace recently joined FOX Sports' Shannon Sharpe to discuss how he continues to break down barriers, the need for him to be NASCAR's voice of change and the importance of recognizing the work he and other athletes have done – while also recognizing the fight is far from over.
"'You're an entertainer. That's it," said Wallace, speaking rhetorically.
He followed with, "Nah, brother, we are people, and when this starts affecting us, that's when it rises us up to say something."
That conversation aired during Monday's "FOX Sports: Voices" special in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, featuring several athletes across the world of sports telling their stories, reflecting on Dr. King and lifting their voices in the name of justice.
Atlanta Dream star Renee Montgomery also spent 2020 fighting for change. She opted to forgo the WNBA season, instead directing her full attention to off-court initiatives, including social justice reform and voter rights.
She cited education as her primary driver and encouraged those around her to explore what inspires them to create change.
"You start where you're passionate about," she said.
Late civil rights icon John Lewis' passion for social justice was clear – and it inspired the entire Atlanta Falcons organization.
The team reflected on Lewis' legacy and how the players have made it a goal to continue to promote those values every day.
Said Atlanta safety Ricardo Allen, "The one thing this team has done has respected each other, listened to each other and made sure that we can find common ground."
However small a step, each of these athletes is moving toward positive change. Today, we recognize how far we've come and those who have spurred us forward, as well as how much work we all still have to do.