A group of Black former basketball players from UNC, Duke and N.C. State programs are sharing their concerns about Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and his run for North Carolina governor.

An open letter distributed Sunday from a group called Athletes 4 Justice expressed concerns about Robinson — who won the Republican primary in March for the gubernatorial race — as a leader, calling him “divisive, extreme, and unfit to be our next Governor.” The collective was organized by Deborah Stroman, a UNC faculty member in the UNC Gillings School of Public Health who worked as an assistant coach for UNC women’s basketball after her playing career at Virginia. Among the group of nine athletes are UNC men’s basketball standouts George Lynch and Al Wood, and Carolina women’s basketball players Kathy Crawford and Darlene Cannon.

The letter points to Robinson’s various comments denigrating or discriminating against women, the LGBTQ+ community, other religions, and immigrants, with the signatories calling the Republican candidate’s rhetoric “disrespectful, embarrassing, and harmful.” Athletes 4 Justice end the statement with a call to residents to “be an informed voter” during this fall’s election cycle and the North Carolina state motto of “to be, rather than to seem.”

The full message reads as:

We, the undersigned, join to publicly share our longstanding hope for a caring, diverse, equitable, and fair-minded state of North Carolina. We announce our support for political candidates who share these same values and discourage those who believe and do otherwise. To that end, we are certain that our current Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson, is divisive, extreme, and unfit to be our next Governor.

As residents and/or having roots in this great state, we have a strong interest in the progress and reputation of North Carolina. As residents and informed citizens in our communities, we have witnessed the growing animosity that seemingly has reversed much of the concerted efforts to make North Carolina a place that is welcoming to all — race, gender identity, class, and sexuality. We care about the positive development of our children, consideration of the needs of the elderly, improved health outcomes, economic growth of all 100 counties, and more. Robinson’s obsessive declarations of inaccuracies and meanness towards Black, Jewish, Muslim, immigrants, and transgender people is disrespectful, embarrassing, and harmful. In addition, his dismissal and disregard for women’s reproductive rights, racial and social justice organizations, educational strategies and activities that encourage the reading of certain books, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our schools and companies is alarming, disturbing, and backwards.

Our experiences and faith walk requires us to speak out against injustice (Micah 6:8). We encourage every North Carolinian to be an informed voter by examining the man who uses his own interpretation of Christian scriptures to foment hate and bigotry. This upcoming November 5, 2024 election is about many serious issues, but we find the battle between our country’s democratic experiment and those who hold autocratic viewpoints to be the most critical. We may hold differing opinions on certain matters, but we are not single-issue voters. We are firm in our belief that our state cannot afford to be guided by a cruel politician. North Carolina deserves a visionary leader for all people.

Towards esse quam videri- “To be, rather than to seem”…

We are,

Gene Banks, Duke ‘81

Charles “Chucky” Brown, NC State ‘89

Peppi Browne-Armstrong, Duke ‘00

Darlene Cannon, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘87

Kathy Crawford, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘83

George Lynch, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘93

Chasity Melvin, NC State ‘99

Deborah Stroman, UNC-Chapel Hill (MA) ‘86

Al Wood, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘81

North Carolina’s gubernatorial race is one of several statewide races on the ballot this fall. The voter registration deadline for the general elections across the state is October 11, and early voting with same-day registration is set to begin on October 17. Election Day across the United States is slated for Tuesday, November 5.


Editor’s Note: Deborah Stroman hosts a show on 97.9 The Hill and is a regular contributor to on-air programming and Chapelboro.com.


Featured photo via AP Photo/Chris Carlson.

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