ATLANTA -– The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) to register its players and staff to vote and encourage them to spread the important message of voting to their fans. As part of media day on Sept. 25, players registered to vote and learned about the importance of this right in a special session with Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King III. The second voter registration drive, held on Oct. 6 at the Hawks’ offices in Downtown Atlanta, was open to the organization’s more than 200 full-time employees.
The RISE to Vote campaign is a nonpartisan initiative launched by RISE that aims to register as many professional athletes as possible. Before the two sessions with the Atlanta Hawks players and staff, RISE completed voter registration events with teams including the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
“RISE to Vote is an incredibly important initiative for our players and our staff to take part in,” said David Lee, Executive Vice President, External Affairs & Executive Director, Atlanta Hawks Foundation. “Voting is a right and a responsibility for all citizens. With local elections approaching, we have encouraged both our players and our staff to register so they can take part in the electoral process next month and help shape the Atlanta community that we are all proud to call home.”
RISE partners with state and local election officials and nonpartisan organizations with expertise in leading and executing successful voter registration drives to amplify the effort and ensure its effectiveness. Accompanying RISE to the Hawks registrations were representatives from New Georgia Project, a non-partisan civic organization that has already registered more than 215,000 residents in the state.
As part of a RISE to Vote session, RISE also secures special guest experts to speak with athletes about the significance of their engagement in democracy. King III addressed both Hawks registration sessions to reinforce the importance of voting as a way for citizens to make their voices heard and as a hard-won right by those who made incredible sacrifices like his parents social justice icons, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
“Voting is one of the most concrete actions you can take to promote social change,” said Jocelyn Benson, RISE CEO. “The work that’s required to unite people and advance equality and progress in our country has a greater impact when athletes are leading the charge. We’re empowering athletes to become informed and engaged citizens and hope they can inspire their fans to do the same.”
Founded in 2015 by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, RISE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. Through educational programming and public awareness campaigns, RISE aims to bring people together to promote understanding, respect and equality.
For more information about the Atlanta Hawks’ community initiatives, visit hawks.com/community-main-page.
For more information about RISE to Vote, visit www.RISEtoWIN.org/RISEtoVote. Follow the campaign on social media using #RISEtoVote.