The likely NBA Rookie of the Year for the Memphis Grizzlies is used to making serious waves on social media.
This time, however, it’s not a highlight reel dunk that is bringing Ja Morant attention.
Morant submitted a letter to a judge in the state of Kentucky on Thursday requesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from downtown Murray, Kentucky - the same Murray where Ja helped put Murray State on the basketball map during his two seasons there.
Former Murray State point guard and current Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant has weighed in on the Confederate statue in the downtown courtsquare of Murray, Ky. pic.twitter.com/77oaSfmcmq— Edward Alan Marlowe (@dreamarlowe85) June 13, 2020
The statue of Lee is part of a larger monument in the square honoring roughly 800 Confederate soldiers and was built in 1917. Given the current state of the Black Lives Matter movement and the numerous instances across the country of such symbols of the Confederacy being targeted as racist tools of oppression and being defaced or torn down, this civic act by Ja is an attempt to bring about such a result in a more peaceful manner.
This is an impressive step out in to the very active and important social activism we’re seeing happen across the United States for a rookie. For someone the stature of LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, their platform bringing about change and conversation comes a bit more naturally given their experience on the worldwide stage that is social media (and media in general). It’s not as natural for someone like Ja, whose story - which endears him so much to Memphis - is not one of a child prodigy. His presence and platform is more new, so his willingness to use his influence in a way to advance the movement and actions in a town where he is so revered like Murray is a direct acknowledgement that his words have weight - and they can be impactful.
From Kyle Anderson marching in protests to Ja’s letter, the Memphis Grizzlies are exercising their right to call for change and pursue much needed growth in our nation. Kudos to Ja for not just using this time away from basketball for earth shaking dunks, recruiting prep basketball players to the Memphis Tigers, and refining his game, but for advocating for something bigger than the NBA.