The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling on the Trump administration to condemn racist events that occurred this past week, including the racial slur painted on the Los Angeles home of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James.
Coupled with another incident — a noose found at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington — Leon Russell, board chairman of the NAACP, said in a statement that the two incidents illuminate a bigger problem of racism in the country and necessitate President Trump to publicly denounce the racial acts.
“We are deeply troubled and disturbed by the heinous acts of racism that occurred on Wednesday,” Russell said. “Leaving a noose — a symbol and weapon of hate — in front of the (museum) and vandalizing the home of NBA superstar LeBron James underscore the recent increase in hate crimes committed against African Americans under the Trump administration. The NAACP will not sit idly while our people continue to be assailed by racist and cowardly actions. Furthermore, we call on the Trump Administration to stand up and speak out against these attacks.”
Derrick Johnson, vice chairman of the NAACP, added that the organization “stands with Mr. James” and that the racial acts “demonstrate the divisive animus that is pervasive throughout our country.”
NAACP director of communications Malik Russell told USA TODAY Sports on Friday evening the organization plans to keep the conversation going next week.
In February, James received the NAACP Jackie Robinson Award from the organization, as it’s annually given to a figure for “high achievement in athletics and contributions in the pursuit of social justice, civil rights and community involvement.”
Trump, who most recently drew headlines for withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, told the Washington Post in 2016, “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.”
James spoke passionately in response to the hate crime against his family earlier this week — with racist graffiti being painted on the gate of their West Los Angeles summer home — and said that if the unfortunate incident can “keep the conversation (of racism) going, to keep progressing, not regressing, I’m not against it happening.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson, a historic civil rights activist, similarly saw the racist incident as a growing moment for the country, lauding James’ handling of the matter and big-picture perspective.
“LeBron is an emancipator, not just an entertainer or an athlete. He has broad enough shoulders to cope with this, even something as horrible and wrong as this,” Jackson told USA TODAY Sports. “LeBron is in a rare zone of being a high-profile super athlete and a (civil) servant leader. He has an acute sensitivity to shining a light in dark places. He embraces that responsibility despite the risk. Athletes with greatness, who show authentic manhood, assume that risk. Muhammad Ali assumed that risk — for social justice. Now LeBron is, too.
“His genius goes far beyond the court. I just wish Dr. (Martin Luther) King had got to meet (James) and see the kind of man he is.”