Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Black EMT who was shot and killed by Louisville Police officers in March of 2020. The young woman was asleep in her apartment when the door was broken down in an attempted drug sting–no drugs were found.
In the eruption of demands for social justice in the United States beginning in May of 2020, Breonna Taylor’s name was printed on signs, buildings, streets with people demanding, “say her name.” WNBA players from across the league helped lead the charge in protests, social media activism, and amplification of Black voices throughout the Spring, and now the WNBA is reinforcing their work.
The 2020 WNBA season is expected to kick off July 24th. Warm-up jerseys will read “Black Lives Matter” on the front, and “Say Her Name” on the back next to Breonna Taylor’s name. Game jerseys will also feature Breonna Taylor’s name “to seek justice for the women and girls, including Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Vanessa Guillen and many more who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence,” read an early July release from the WNBA.
The jerseys, while powerful, are not the only change coming from the league. The entirety of the 2020 season will be dedicated to fighting systemic racism by forming a new WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council, which coincides with the league’s new platform called The Justice Movement. Players, coaches, and administrators are working to “educate, amplify, and mobilize for action” under the umbrella of this new campaign. They plan to push issues like race, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control, and voting rights among other things.
“We are incredibly proud of WNBA players who continue to lead with their inspiring voices and effective actions in the league’s dedicated fight against systemic racism and violence,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert via the WNBA statement. “Working together with the WNBPA and the teams, the league aims to highlight players’ social justice efforts throughout the 2020 season and beyond. Systemic change can’t happen overnight, but it is our shared responsibility to do everything we can to raise awareness and promote the justice we hope to see in society.”
While one officer has been let go, there remain no criminal charges in relation to Breonna Taylor’s death. There is an active FBI investigation, and Taylor’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Louisville. The players of the WNBA and millions of Americans across the United States are demanding justice for this young woman alongside many others in the Black community.
The WNBA is doing their part to raise awareness and create change, and they hope that on the July 24th tip-off, you will say Breonna Taylor’s name before you cheer for them.