“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
In the past week, Russell Westbrook has been his usual active self on the court with his loud vocal leadership, helping his Washington Wizards record a five-game win streak for the first time in three years. Still, his achievements on the court lately pale in comparison to what he’s been doing in silence off the court.
It started on the 19th of February when Westbrook announced he was joining financial tech firm Varo Bank, which successfully raised $63 million in their latest round of funding Westbrook will be joining as an investor and advisor. He and Varo share a commitment to have a positive impact on the community. More importantly, Westbrook will directly input America’s first all-digital nationally charted bank’s impact on communities of color and African Americans.
“The banking system has ignored or underserved a large portion of the American population, particularly communities of color. I’m passionate about making lasting social change and creating a stronger and more inclusive system,” said Westbrook. “I am excited and ready to work with Varo to be a part of an economic revitalization for those who never had the access they deserved.”
“The Varo team is thrilled Russell is joining us on our trailblazing journey as the only all-digital, mission-driven national bank in the country,” said Colin Walsh, founder, and CEO of Varo Bank. “We both share a view that banking can be and needs to be a force for good. Russell is a visionary, and his energy and passion for design, product excellence, and community impact will help propel Varo’s next phase of growth. “Working together will accelerate our efforts to reimagine banking for all of us.”
Westbrook was only getting started. On the same day, he would also announce that he will be teaming up with the History Channel to executive produce a documentary on the Tulsa Race Massacre via his Twitter and Instagram. In 1921, violent white groups attacked Black Wall Street, the wealthiest Black community in the United States. The documentary will coincide with the historic event’s 100th anniversary. The film will feature rare footage and present-day interviews from historians and Black Wall Street’s rise in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to its violent two-day collapse.
“The Tulsa Race Massacre was not something I was taught about in school or any of my history books,” said Westbrook. “It was only after spending 11 years in Oklahoma that I learned of this deeply troubling and heartbreaking event. This is one of many overlooked stories of African Americans in this country that deserves to be told. These are the stories we must honor and amplify, so we can learn from the past and create a better future.”
He isn’t stopping with his educational efforts on the past Westbrook also has major plans to help the future education. Westbrook announced today that he will be teaming up with the L.A. Promise Fund to launch the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy, consisting of a middle school and a high school in Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook has cemented himself on the basketball court as a Hall of Famer, a place he couldn’t dream of being as a kid growing up but did anyway, but what might be more impressive is what he has and will continue to do as a man and leader. Whatever your opinion is of the athlete is fine, and your right, but don’t let that get in the way of your opinion of the man and leader Russell Westbrook is making a generational change in this world that will leave a historical impact.