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15 Oct 2021

NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson named co-chair of ADL Sports Leadership Council

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October 15, 2021 Category: Sports Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP

NEW YORK —The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week announced that NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson has been named co-chair of ADL’s Sports Leadership Council. The council, originally formed in fall 2017, works directly with key leaders in the sports world, including professional athletes, league commissioners and other industry leaders to increase the sports community’s efforts to build bridges of understanding, unity, and respect.

“From Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their black-gloved fists for all the world to see at the 1968 Summer Olympics, to Muhammad Ali being stripped of his world championship for protesting the Vietnam War, to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to bring attention to the continued police brutality against Black and brown people, sports have throughout history been synonymous with the pursuit for racial and social justice,” Johnson said. “Too often, athletes are told to ‘stick to sports.’ To that, we emphatically say, ‘we will not.’ This moment calls for more from those with large platforms, including professional athletes, teams, and leagues. I am proud to join this effort, alongside ADL, former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, and the impressive roster of council members.”

“At the NFL, we recognize we must break down barriers to opportunity and equality for our communities to thrive,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “The NAACP is a historic organization that does critically important work and we welcome Derrick to the ADL Sports Leadership Council.”

“Derrick has been an invaluable resource, ally, and friend in the fight for equal justice, and I am proud to welcome him to the council,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “Derrick brings a unique perspective and skillset, along with the tools and institutional knowledge of the NAACP, that will help transcend this council into a more active force in the world of sports to promote fairness, equality, inclusion and mutual respect from the playing field to the classroom.”

“We could not be more thrilled that Derrick and the NAACP are joining this industry-wide effort amongst sports leaders to influence issues around equality and fair play in the sports world,” said Larry Scott, former Pac-12 commissioner. “Adding a leader with the breadth of experience like Derrick, and who brings with him the institutional impact of the NAACP to the council, is a huge win for not only us, but the sports world at large.”

Initial members of the council included Scott, who co-chairs the council, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, tennis icon Billie Jean King, and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.

ADL and the Sports Council engage at a national and local level to develop forums, best practice sharing, and other actions on issues ranging from discrimination based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and other forms, as well as tackling bullying both online and off.


Johnson has served as president and CEO of the NAACP since October 2017. He formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP national board of directors, as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Johnson has helped guide the association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.

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