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2020 Regal King Award: Professional, Amateur Athletes Who Said Black Lives Matter

by Richard Francis

 

The death of George Floyd sparked a movement to stop police brutality and systemic racism. Pictured is Floyd’s mural in the Third Ward area of Houston, Floyd’s hometown (Photo Credit: Regal Media Group/Todd A. Smith).

 

 

2020 Regal Kings of the Year: Professional, Amateur Athletes Across Globe Who Used Platform to Protest Racism, Police Brutality


Every year, RegalMag.com announces at least one Regal King of the Year award recipient.


While many magazines like to honor celebrities, the Regal King of the Year Award does not limit itself to those with household names.


The Regal King of the Year Award goes to an African-American man or African-American men who have made a significant impact on the lives of people from the African-American community.


This year we could not just limit the award to men or people from the African-American race because after the horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people from across the globe used their voice to demand police accountability and an end to systemic racism.


Therefore, the 2020 Regal King of the Year Award goes to all athletes, professional or amateur, men or women, African-American or not, who risked their popularity and profits to say enough is enough and to demand change immediately.


The year 2020 will go down in the record books much like the year 1968 with political protests, abuse of power and threats of violence against political and social leaders.


But, the coronavirus does not have a 1968 equivalent.


For precedent on a pandemic this large, historians have to look back to 1918-1919 and the Spanish flu epidemic.


Nevertheless, when the pandemic shutdown all sports and most entertainment, it gave Americans a lot of time for reflection on what was important in life.


Then former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed Floyd by putting a knee to his neck for over eight minutes as the former Houstonian begged for his life and witnesses pleaded with the cop to get off of him.


By this time, the pandemic had put a halt to high school, college and professional sports.


Many professional and college athletes began taking to the streets, marching for justice like their parents and grandparents had done in the 1960s.


And when professional sports leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA) came up with a plan to finish the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs in an Orlando, Fla. area bubble, some believed that returning to the court would take attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement.


With the help of NBA stars like Chris Paul, the league came up with a solution.


The NBA would allow players to wear messages of unity and racial quality on the back of their jerseys, with Black Lives Matter painted on the court.


To give credit where credit its due, the stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) came up with the idea of having social messages on their jerseys first and their brethren from the NBA just followed in the footsteps of their female counterparts.


Professional and college athletes even took their efforts farther than just slogans and social media posts.


Many encouraged their colleagues and classmates to register to vote, some voting for the first time during the contentious 2020 presidential election.


  Stars like LeBron James of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers helped raise money so that former Florida felons could pay their “poll tax” and receive the right to vote.


Florida enacted a law making former felons pay a fine before being eligible to vote again.


Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many states prohibited African-Americans from voting by making them pay an expensive poll tax, among other deterrents, which made it virtually impossible for African-Americans in the South to vote.


James and stars like Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, longtime critics of President Donald Trump, used their voice to speak out against what they perceived as racism from President Trump.


President-elect Joe Biden eventually won the 2020 presidential election in a landslide.


But like Frederick Douglass once said, without struggle, there is no progress.


While athletes like James received praise for using their pedestal to help those in the African-American community, there were millions of people from some conservative White circles that told James to shut up and dribble.


Many White conservatives presumably yearned for the day that African-American athletes simply existed as products for their own entertainment.


For many, Michael Jordan stood out as a shining example of African-Americans staying in their place and keeping their politics to themselves.


But in 2020, even Jordan could not stay away from social issues, donating millions to charitable and social justice causes throughout his home state of North Carolina.


Many conservative critics pointed to lower television ratings amongst all sports to prove their point that celebrities only exist to entertain despite being tax-paying citizens themselves.


But what some of the critics might not realize is that athletes and entertainers who have taken a temporary loss financially speaking up for what they believe in, have often reaped even bigger rewards later as people came to realize their cause was righteous.


Boxing legend Muhammad Ali lost his heavyweight title, endorsements and all means of making money in sports and entertainment after he refused induction into the armed forces in Houston during the height of the Vietnam War.


Some critics even called him a disgrace to the nation.


Decades later, that same Ali reduced the nation to tears when he lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta at the start of the 1996 Games.


Many of those same critics call him the greatest of all time, even after death.


And his death, and funeral, was worldwide news around the globe.


Furthermore, he made millions more once the Supreme Court overturned his conviction for refusing induction into the military.


Moreover, Ali influenced generations of Regal kings and queens to never put profits before principle.


And the world is a better place for it.


Therefore, congratulations to all of the amateur and professional athletes who put their community before simple competition.


You are all the 2020 Regal Kings and Queens of the Year.

 

Take a bow!

This article was published on Friday 04 December, 2020.
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