On Thursday, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson penned a letter to the Players Associations representing five major professional sports leagues, asking potential free agents to avoid signing with teams in Texas because of the state’s voting and abortion laws.
The letter was sent to the Players Associations of the NBA, NFL, WNBA, NHL, and MLB, and urges professional athletes to “seek employment with sports teams located in states that will protect, honor and serve your families with integrity.”
“From abortion to voting rights and mask mandates, Texas has become a blueprint by legislators to violate constitutional rights for all, especially for women, children, and marginalized communities,” writes Johnson.
“As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children, and marginalized communities. Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a women’s freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus. If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas. If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas.”
In recent months, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law an election integrity bill as well as the “Heartbeat Bill,” which prohibits most abortions after six weeks, when fetal cardiac activity can be detected.
According to the Texas Tribune, the election integrity bill “establishes new ID requirements for voting by mail, enhances protections for partisan poll watchers and sets new rules, and possible criminal penalties, for those who assist voters.”
“It also makes it a state jail felony for local election officials to proactively distribute applications for mail-in ballots, even if they are providing them to voters who automatically qualify to vote by mail or groups helping get out the vote.”
Johnson’s letter calls the voting law “extreme” that “dilute[s] the voices of people of color.”
“By limiting the ability to offer free and fair elections to all, Texas remains a state of hostility for many communities,” the letter states. “Recently released data from the 2020 census shows that people of color have driven 95% of the Texas population growth. Yet, new voting legislation and political maps put these communities at risk of not being able to participate in their democracy. These laws are intended to suppress our constitutional right to vote.”
On September 1, a Texas law effectively banning most abortions over 6 weeks — when a heartbeat can be detected — went into effect. The law allows private citizens to sue anyone assisting a person seeking an illicit abortion.
“The Texas government has also empowered vigilantes with the authority of the law, going so far as to offer a $10,000 incentive to sue all who aid women in exercising their constitutional right to an abortion,” the letter from the NAACP reads.
The letter also discusses Texas’s COVID-19 policies, with Abbott signing an executive order in May banning mask mandates in schools.
“Concurrently, the Texas Attorney General is suing school districts that prioritize the health and safety of their students and teachers by requiring masks.”
“We are now pleading with you — if you are a free agent and are considering employment in Texas, look elsewhere,” the letter concludes. “The Texas government will not protect your family. Demand that Texas owners invest in your rights and protect your investments. Texas is not safe for you, your spouse, or your children. Until the legislation is overturned, Texas isn’t safe for anyone.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].