As the nation mourned the passing of Microsoft co-founder and NFL and NBA franchise owner Paul Allen, family, friends and fans were sharing memories of his life, including his relationships with African-Americans.
Allen, who died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Seattle on Monday afternoon, was 65 years old. Known for his work to innovate technology and with Vulcan, his network of philanthropic organizations and efforts, the billionaire philanthropist was also the owner of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and NBA’s Portland Trailblazers. Because of the two sports teams, Allen had many interactions with African-American athletes, including Colin Kaepernick, whose case accusing NFL ownership of colluding to keep him from playing has moved forward in court.
Kaepernick visited with the Seahawks in May of last year, many months after he was released from the San Francisco 49ers following his social justice-based kneeling protests in 2016. The Seahawks then reached back out to Kaepernick to schedule another visit this past April at a time when many people of color felt the quarterback was being blackballed from the league.
Many in the nation acknowledged the team’s meeting with Kaep under Allen’s ownership, however, the Seahawks ultimately didn’t sign Kaepernick. After releasing a statement of support for Kaepernick, the team canceled a workout with him in April when Kaepernick didn’t answer their question about his plans to continue his National Anthem kneeling protest.
Headlines also acknowledged that the free agent’s lawyers had also reportedly called on Allen and other team owners for depositions in the collusion case.
Allen gave $100,000 to the GOP last month in order to help Republicans keep their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. His donation drew criticism from activists who pointed out that the NFL doesn’t support Black communities enough even though African-American players make up the league’s majority. Activists had asked the league to start depositing funds into Black-owned banks, as well.
Aside from the sports world, Microsoft co-founder had also been credited with making contributions to some organizations supporting people of color, including Adelante Mujeres, a grassroots organization that works to educate and empower Latina women and their families. He had also pledged to donate $100 million to fight Ebola, a disease that has ravaged the Black populations in West Africa.
Allen also was applauded for investing in cultural institutions in Seattle and revitalizing parts of the city. However, some social media users emphasized that the major developments had opened the door for gentrifying Seattle, a practice known as a factor in driving African Americans out of certain neighborhoods.
Allen never married and had no children.