“It is important to note that this is not a strike, this is not a boycott. This is affirmatively a day of reflection, a day of informed action and mobilization,” Ogwumike said on ESPN Thursday. “We recommitted to the justice movement, the platform for our advocacy, and recommitted to the Say Her Name campaign. We are doubling down on our previous calls to action to: contact your local officials and demand reform, register to vote and show up on Election day, complete the 2020 census and be counted.”
Ogwumike’s teammate, fellow Spark Chelsea Gray, clearly took those words to heart. On the day that the WNBA schedule is set to resume, Gray announced new actions that she is taking to directly impact voter engagement in California, where she grew up and currently plays professionally.
Gray is creating the Chelsea Gray Assist For Equality program, per a release from the team on her behalf. During her time in the WNBA bubble, Gray said that she wanted to figure out what she could do to move any of the social movements along with her platform and her time. Ultimately, she settled on voter engagement, and the purpose of this initiative, as Gray explained on a Zoom call this morning, is “trying to get people educated on voting, the importance of voting, at all levels.” She elaborated on her motivation in the team’s press release.
“The more I have learned about our voting system, especially at the state level, the more I want to help educate others on it as well,” Gray said. “Voting is a huge part of our democracy and is pivotal for the future of our country. Sitting out this year is not an option.”
As part of the campaign’s launch, Gray will be donating $50 per assist during the 2020 WNBA season to Equality California (and LGBTQ+ civil rights organization) and Rock The Vote. The Los Angeles Sparks will be matching that total so that $50 goes to each group.
Gray’s contributions will be backdated throughout the entire 2020 season and a team source said they should continue through the playoffs. Thus far, Gray has 65 assists this year (an average of 5.0 per game), and there are nine games to play before the postseason.
In the midst of an unprecedented WNBA season, the purpose of the league’s collective pause was so that the players could refocus their efforts on social justice. Gray has done exactly that with her new campaign.