Men’s basketball head coach raises awareness for voter registration in racial justice group

Men’s basketball head coach Jamion Christian is participating in an organization seeking to improve the treatment of Black people in the sports industry.

Christian joined Advancement of Blacks in Sport, which pushes for institutional changes that promote racial, social and economic justice. The organization is broken into 11 committees focused on initiatives like hiring practices, racial equity research and teaching African American history, according to its website.

“We’re just trying to make sure we’re doing a great job and a concerted effort of making sure that the needs of our communities are understood,” Christian said.

Gary Charles, the founder of the grassroots basketball program the New York Panthers, contacted basketball coaches after the police killing of George Floyd on how to create a movement for change, ABIS’s website states. Christian said he was asked to join the program after he and the men’s basketball program hosted 360 Mentoring, a symposium featuring Black coaches, sports administrators and sports industry experts.

“I took a couple meetings, listened to the message, after I thought it was something truly special,” he said. “I’m excited to be part of it.”

ABIS includes six “keys to victory,” including economic sustainability, education, grassroots and community outreach, racial equity research, student-athlete development and support and voting and civic engagement.

Robert Turner, an assistant professor of clinical research and leadership and neurology, and Victor Kidd, a clinical research associate, are listed as contributors to the racial equity research committee.

Christian is a member of the voter registration committee, which meets at least once a month and is chaired by Howard men’s basketball head coach Kenny Blakeney.

“Being here at GW – one of the best political science schools in the country, maybe in the world – I just felt like that was a natural one for me and one I kind of fit into,” he said.

He said the committee advocated for coaches, student-athletes and staff members to have Election Day off from sports and helped each team register to vote. The NCAA prohibited Division I athletes from competing or practicing on Election Day in a Sept. 16 measure.

“Just trying to push that initiative out, which is amazing how many people don’t know how to register to vote or understand the importance of it,” Christian said. “It’s just trying to do a great job at our home base first, make sure everyone on our team understands it and understands how you can register.”

Unlike other organizations that might focus on one sport or only include men’s and women’s basketball, Christian said ABIS draws from a number of sports and their communities, like men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and football.

He added that ABIS isn’t a one-time event or group but an organization that will continue to grow with time to tackle challenges in sports and individual communities.

“As the organization continues to grow, we’re going to continue to find different ways that we can continue to help our environment and our communities,” he said. “That’s something I’ve been really excited about – that it wasn’t just a one time thing.”

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