From Muhammad Ali and Althea Gibson to Colin Kaepernick and Serena Williams, Black athletes have historically used their platforms to spread awareness about social injustices. In an effort to carry on the legacy of resiliency, a collective of individuals in sports and entertainment are joining forces for the creation of a new nonprofit centered on racial, social and economic equity within the sports industry.
The nonprofit—dubbed Advancement of Blacks in Sports, Inc. (ABIS)—is being spearheaded by Gary Charles. Charles is the owner of the renowned basketball tournament “Tip of the Hat Hoops” and has coached several professional and NCAA Division I basketball players throughout his career. Following the recent incidents of police brutality and conversations surrounding the state of racial equality in America, Charles was compelled to create a platform designed to change the narrative, specifically within the sports industry. Through ABIS, he hopes to address discriminatory hiring practices within sports franchises, develop vendor opportunities for Black-owned businesses at major sporting events, provide support for student-athletes and develop strategies to use sports as an avenue to promote voter registration.
Charles has garnered support from several influential individuals across different industries including hip hop legend Chuck D, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, human rights lawyer Michael Hausfeld, former WNBA player Dawn Staley and former NBA players Tracy McGrady and Penny Hardaway. Charles says the loss of legendary college basketball coach John Thompson inspired him to move forward with creating ABIS. “The passing of John Thompson means another American icon has passed away. One of the best ways to honor him is for us to continue the legacy he started,” he said in a statement. “We have not been fully embraced in the board room, have not been offered a substantial amount of head coaching positions, and have been consistently blocked out of revenues earned through contracts specific to athletics. It’s time for advancement.”