This article appeared in the September 23, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Why Michael Jordan invests in racial justice on the NASCAR track

Chuck Burton/AP/File
Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan practices waving the green flag before a NASCAR All-Star auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, May 22, 2010. Denny Hamlin is starting his own racing team in partnership with Mr. Jordan and Bubba Wallace as the driver.

On Saturday, the lone full-time Black NASCAR driver was showered with boos from fans at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bubba Wallace ignored them. And Monday night, we found out why.

Mr. Wallace is now a partner with one of the most iconic figures in sports history. NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin have formed a new Cup Series racing team. Mr. Wallace will be their driver. 

This team is aimed at supporting a shift in progress. “Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” Mr. Jordan said in a statement. “The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”

Mr. Wallace is a rising star and advocate for Black Lives Matter. In June, he called for a ban on Confederate battle flags. A week later, NASCAR obliged. “Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him,” tweeted Mr. Hamlin. 

This isn’t the first time Mr. Jordan has put money behind his principles. In June, he pledged to donate $100 million over 10 years to groups “dedicated to ensuring racial equality and social justice.” 

Mr. Jordan has been a lifelong racing fan and this is a business investment. But it’s also an investment in turbocharging equality. He said, “I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”

This article appeared in the September 23, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/23 edition
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