Michael Jordan has described the death of George Floyd as a “tipping point” for African Americans, after making a $100m donation to organisations supporting racial equality.
The six-time NBA champion and his Nike-backed Jordan brand have pledged to donate £79m during the next 10 years to organisations engaged in the fight for racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.
The donation follows the death of Floyd last week in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note in a shop.
“We have been beaten down [as African Americans] for so many years,” Jordan told the Charlotte Observer.
“It sucks your soul. You can’t accept it anymore. This is a tipping point. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to be better as a society regarding race.”
Floyd’s death led to mass demonstrations in America, which have spread around the world, including to the United Kingdom, where thousands gathered on Saturday.
Jordan said it had not yet been decided which organisations would receive the money, but urged other races to play their part in tackling the problem.
“We haven’t yet figured which vehicles to utilise,” said Jordan, who is the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
“But it’s first about making an effort. It’s not just [donating] money. It’s the act of calling on all of us to take a look at ourselves. That’s an important start.
“Face up to your demons. Extend a hand. Understand the inequalities. Sure, it’s about bargaining for better policing, but it’s more. We have encountered racism to be somewhat acceptable in certain circles.
“Just because someone grew up in a slum doesn’t mean you should look at them as not being equal – so they, themselves, start seeing themselves as not equal. You should not feel you’re better than others because you grew up with more advantages.”
Floyd was in handcuffs when police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck as he pleaded that he could not breathe.
The officer was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter four days later. Those charges were upgraded to second-degree murder.
Three other police officers who were present during the arrest – J Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane – have been charged as accomplices.