For Immediate Release: September 8, 2020
COLOR OF CHANGE SPONSORS OLYMPIC ATHLETE GWEN BERRY, CALLS ON CORPORATE OLYMPIC PARTNERS TO SUPPORT BLACK ATHLETES
Organization’s first-ever athletic sponsorship comes after series of corporate sponsorship withdrawals in response to Berry’s racial justice activism
NATIONWIDE — Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, today announced its sponsorship of U.S. Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry through the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. The announcement comes after a series of corporations withdrew their support in response to Berry’s public display of protest against racial injustice during a gold medal ceremony at the Pan American Games in 2019. Since then, Berry, who has continued to be outspoken on racial and social justice issues, has lost more than 80 percent of her income due to the corporate sponsorship withdrawals, including a deal with Nike. In its continued commitment to support Black athletes, Color Of Change is stepping in with a $15,000 sponsorship deal for the next calendar year and calling on corporate Olympic partners to match or exceed their commitments to Berry.
“I’m proud to be supported by Color Of Change, which has been a strong supporter of Black athletes and our voices,” said Gwen Berry, U.S. Olympic hammer thrower. “The corporate sponsors that backed out after I took a stand against racial injustice have shown their true colors by trying to silence me and other Black athletes. We’re not props to be exploited, and we have a right to speak up against the systems that kill us. We’re Black on and off the field, 365 days a year. It’s time corporations understand they can’t separate us from our Blackness and the issues that impact our lives, our families, and our communities.”
After recent protests in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the police shooting of Jacob Blake, countless corporations have issued statements in support of racial justice and their Black employees. Color Of Change has continued to demand these same corporations go #BeyondTheStatement to prove their commitment through real action, which is why the organization today launched a new petition calling on corporate Olympic partners, including Nike, Visa, P&G, Kellogg’s, and Samsung, to sponsor Gwen Berry and support Black athletes.
Further, Color Of Change demands Nike immediately renew its sponsorship of Gwen Berry. While Nike stood by Colin Kaepernick as he faced harsh criticism for taking a knee during the national anthem in protest against racial injustice in 2018, the company demonstrated hypocrisy by leaving Berry without any support and failing to renew its sponsorship deal after her personal display of activism in 2019 resulted in similar backlash.
“We are honored to support Olympian Gwen Berry, who is a shining example of the bravery and boldness it takes to take a public stand against injustice no matter what,” said Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson. “Corporations must step up and fully support Black athletes who fight for racial justice. It is not enough to merely issue Black Lives Matter statements. Companies that make an enormous profit off of athletes of color, like Nike, have an opportunity now to move from words to actions in order to truly stand in solidarity with Black communities.”
For years, Color Of Change has mobilized its 7 million members to demand corporations and institutions stand behind and lift up Black athletes. Last week, Color Of Change demanded the NBA’s league office and team owners support the players’ strike. The organization is also a driving force behind the Fair Pay to Play Act and the College Athletes Bill of Rights.
About Color Of Change:
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.