Photo: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday announced today that he’ll donate the rest of his salary for the 2019-2020 NBA season to various charities and Black owned businesses. The game checks are worth an estimated $5.3 million, which will go to charities and businesses in need, via the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Fund. The money will be spread among organizations in New Orleans, Los Angeles and Indianapolis, the announcement was made on ESPN’s “The Jump.”
With professional sports still on pause, Holiday has chosen to remain active in a different way, using his platform and personal income to help strengthen Black businesses and organizations. Holiday’s gesture is commendable and very rare. In the past, Black entertainers and influencers used their platform to advance the goals of the collective but today, unfortunately, far too many influencers seek to rally the masses in support of their own pursuits. The advancement of the few will never serve as a replacement for the advancement of the collective, something the late Dick Gregory understood well.
Dick Gregory was a successful comedian during the 1960’s. Gregory’s breakthrough in comedy came in 1961 when a one-night performance at the Chicago Playboy Club turned into six weeks and ultimately earned him an appearance on “The Jack Paar Show.” Having just begun to establish himself on then national scene, the obvious thing to do would have been to play it safe, grow his following and earn as much money as he could for several years. Instead, by 1963 Gregory found himself jailed in Birmingham for fighting oppression, although he actually lived in Chicago. Gregory placed the plight of the masses above his personal battles. Yes, he still performed and fought to have his art appreciated. He did also, however, use his platform to fight the larger battle of Black liberation, although he stood to gain very little personally in return. That is selfless, genuine advocacy, on behalf of the collective.
All that we need is in the community but everyone must do their part. Black celebrities have a platform and capital to help advance the collective. The masses, however, must do all that we can to circulate Black dollars, build Black institutions and yes, support Black influencers who show loyalty to the collective. Holiday’s gesture is commendable and the entities that benefit from it must now show the same commitment back to the community.