Nike, FedEx pressured to cut ties with Washington Redskins over team name
Dozens of investment firms and shareholders are calling on Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to end their business relationships with the Washington Redskins unless the team changes its name, Adweek reported Wednesday.
The letters, sent last week and signed by 87 firms holding more than $620 billion in assets, said the companies were not living up to their stated opposition to racial injustice.
“Many of us have raised this issue with Nike for years to little avail,” investors wrote in their letter to Nike. “But in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name. Therefore, it is time for Nike to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”
The letter, which noted the athletic company’s work with former football player and activist Colin Kaepernick, condemned Nike for providing the Washington team with uniforms and equipment, saying it “runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”
The letter to FedEx criticized the company for owning the naming rights to FedExField in Landover, Md., where the team plays.
On June 1, FedEx released a statement condemning racism and supporting the demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
“There is absolutely no place for racism or unequal treatment anywhere, and we must unequivocally speak out and reject it when we see it,” the company said.
Investors said that FedEx’s continued partnership with the football team amounts to “association with and facilitation of the racism inherent in the name and logo,” and reiterated that this act “runs contrary to the very sentiments expressed by the company.”
FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has repeatedly said he will never change the name.
The nationwide protests against racial inequality has put the team under fresh scrutiny. Last month, the statue of George Preston Marshall, the team’s founder was vandalized outside RFK Stadium in Washington, the team’s former home. Marshall was known for not signing any African American players until the federal government forced his hand in 1962.