LeBron James narrates pro-BLM voting-rights ad for NBA All-Star Game: ‘They fear it’

LeBron James has been criticized for bringing politics into pro basketball and he doesn’t plan to back down at the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta this Sunday.  

The Los Angeles Lakers star is set to lead a voting rights ad for More Than A Vote, a group that aims to stop voter suppression. James is an organizer of the group, which includes other Black athletes and artists.

The ad — the organization’s first of 2021 — will air for the first time at Sunday’s game.

The 51-second spot accuses Republicans of voter suppression against people of color and reminds Black voters that having Joe Biden the 2020 presidential election was only the beginning of the electoral fight.

“Look what we did,” James’ commanding voice narrates a montage showing Biden inauguration poet Amanda Gorman, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.

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“They saw what we’re capable of,” James continues narrating, as images of Black Lives Matter protests flash on the screen, “and they fear it.”

“They saw what we’re capable of — and they fear it.”

— LeBron James, in new voting-rights ad

Sunday’s game was moved to Atlanta from Indianapolis because of scheduling conflicts with the NCAA college basketball tournament being held in Indiana.

The venue switch gave James’ group a chance to highlight Georgia, the state that Biden flipped blue for the first time in a generation and voted in Democrats Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate – ousting two Republican incumbents — in no small part because of Black voter turnout encouraged by Abrams and others.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James drives against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Dec. 7, 2018. (Associated Press)

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James drives against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Dec. 7, 2018. (Associated Press)

More Than A Vote has been credited will helping drum up votes.

James finishes the commercial by warning voters that Biden’s win doesn’t mean his supporters can get complacent or limit their activism to social media.

“For us, this was never about one election,” James says, as images from the Civil Rights Movement flash across the screen.

“It’s always been more than a vote. It’s a fight that’s just getting started. We’ve been ready. You with us?” he asks at the end.

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The ad highlights so-called voter suppression efforts that are already underway since Biden’s election. State lawmakers across the country have filed more than 200 bills in 43 states that would limit ballot access in future elections, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which tracks such data.

In Georgia this week, state lawmakers voted for legislation requiring identification to vote by mail that would also allow counties to cancel early in-person voting on Sunday. Many Black voters have historically voted on Sundays after church in what’s called “souls to the polls.”

More Than A Vote’s 2021 platform, announced Friday, comes days after House Democrats sent a bill to the Senate that potentially represents the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in years.

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The organization is calling its latest plan the “Protect Our Power campaign,” which it said, “will fight against this new wave of voter suppression efforts sweeping the country aimed at rolling back the gains Black voters made in last year’s general election.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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