“We’re in a position right now in America where this whole race thing is taking over. One, because I believe our president is trying to divide us. He’s dividing us, and what I’ve noticed over the last few months is that he’s kind of used sport to kind of divide us. That’s something that I can’t relate to, because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white. I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them, and they got an opportunity to learn about me, and we became very good friends. I was like this is all because of sports. And sports has never been something that divided people. It’s always been something that brings someone together.” – LeBron James
LeBron James spent his Monday touting the opening of an Akron elementary school for at-risk children that he played a significant role in funding and shaping.
The I Promise School is a joint venture between the foundation and Akron Public Schools. The school board oversaw the creation of the curriculum and ensured the school would meet educational standards, while LeBron served as the primary donor to help shape the outside-the-classroom goals of the school.
How does the I Promise School differ from any other school?
The school will operate with a longer-than-normal school year, with a focus on accelerated learning to bring kids up to speed who otherwise might be lagging. In addition, there is a focus on combating factors outside of the classroom that could cause children to struggle.
Services are available to help students deal from stress related to parents who are struggling to make ends meet. In addition there are activities to prevent the kids from having too much idle time and potentially getting into trouble.
The school also provides services to families, which include job placement assistance for parents and an on-site food bank that will allow parents to pick out foods they can prepare at home.
LeBron James often credits his bicycle as a huge factor in his childhood that gave him an escape from dangerous parts of his neighborhood and the freedom to explore — every student will receive a bicycle when they arrive.
Principal Brandi Davis explained the goals of the I Promise School to the Los Angeles Times:
“I think the missing link in public education is that family wraparound support,” said Brandi Davis, the school’s principal. “Because our students come to school and they’re worried about things at home. … We want to create that safe, that secure and that caring and loving environment for our families and our students so that our kids can focus on education.”
While promoting the school with CNN’s Don Lemon, James took the opportunity to discuss the state of race and politics in the United States. James did not hesitate to call out President Donald Trump for his penchant of using race as a wedge issue in his politicking.
James a frequent critic of Trump
James, unlike many of his counterparts and predecessors, has rarely been shy to speak candidly on politics and controversial issues and has been a frequent critic of Trump’s tactic of using his pulpit to sow division.
Prior to the start of last season, James called Trump a bum after he rescinded an invitation to the champion Golden State Warriors to attend the White House.
“My first initial response was, ‘You bum,’” James told reporters. “He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country. He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president of the United State for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement. He doesn’t understand that, and that’s what makes me more sick than anything.”
James has a powerful voice, one of the few that can stand out in a saturated media landscape that’s often overwhelmed by Trump.
With his move to Los Angeles and his burgeoning media empire, we should expect to continue to hear James challenge the president’s policies.