Puma has launched #REFORM, a new platform that will give activists from the worlds of sports, music and entertainment support in championing causes and encouraging conversations around issues such as universal equality and criminal justice reform.
Puma said #REFORM is directly inspired by Olympian Tommie Smith, and his “Silent Gesture” that sparked global debate around the issues of civil rights and universal equality at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
The company said in the release, “Puma’s belief is that to achieve faster progress, a team is essential. Therefore, Puma has created Team#REFORM. This is a collective of individuals who believe that progress toward universal equality needs to be achieved faster. ”
To lead Team#REFORM, Puma has selected captains including rapper Meek Mill (who will focus on criminal justice reform) and WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith (gender equality) alongside Captain Emeritus Tommie Smith (universal equality). The brand will also be partnering with entertainment company Roc Nation to spread the message of #REFORM through live and social engagement. Future #REFORM captains will be named in the coming months.
Puma’s goal is to go beyond inspiration and turn intentions into actions. #REFORM captains will work with the brand to identify beneficiaries of #REFORM tactics, including product creation, recognition grants and #REFORM Summits where like-minded individuals will gather to promote an agenda for change.
In recognition of Tommie Smith’s lifetime of bravery, Puma will present him with the first #REFORM AWARD this evening at the Tommie Smith Youth Initiative Gala. The award will be accompanied by a donation to the Tommie Smith Youth Initiative Foundation. This event will mark the kick off of Puma’s #REFORM campaign.
On October 16, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Silent Gesture at the 1968 Olympics, Team#REFORM captains will call on Puma brand ambassadors and all likeminded individuals to join Team#REFORM and celebrate Tommie’s achievements with the #THIRDSALUTE. The #THIRDSALUTE is a social media movement in which individuals challenge others to post an image of themselves with a raised fist and make a donation to charities pursuing universal equality including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization which has worked for more than 100 years to defend and promote the liberties enshrined in the United States Constitution. All donations from the #THIRDSALUTE will be matched by Puma up to $100,000 through December 31, 2018.
On October 16, Puma will also launch the “Power Through Peace” Collection commemorating Tommie’s Silent Gesture and featuring graphics designed by Lance Wyman, creator of the logo of the ‘68 Olympics. All profits from the sales of this collection will be donated to charities pursuing universal equality.
Throughout 2018/19 and beyond, Puma will be working with #Reform Captains to launch other programs that will promote actions to further the goal of universal equality.
#REFORM Team Captains
Tommie Smith (Universal Equality): Sprinter Tommie Smith held or tied 13 World Records during his collegiate career, including the marks for the 200-meter straight and turn and the 220-yard dash. When Smith took the gold in the 200 meters in a world-record-setting time at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, he used his moment on the podium to enter the history books. After he received his medal, Smith bowed his head and raised his fist in a silent gesture which drew attention to human rights abuses and discrimination. Tommie Smith will serve as Puma’s captain emeritus of the #REFORM team fighting for universal equality, and all proceeds from the “Power Through Peace” collection will go towards charity partners fighting for universal equality.
Skylar Diggins-Smith (Gender Equality): Dallas Wings points guard Skylar Diggins-Smith is one of the biggest stars in the WNBA, a four-time WNBA All Star, 2014 WNBA Most Improved Player and 2015 ESPY Award Winner. In 2018, she thrust herself into the public debate on equal pay and gender equality by writing an opinion piece in which she outlined the inequality facing female athletes compared to their male counterparts. Skylar Diggins-Smith will captain the #REFORM team for gender equality, and all proceeds from sales of her #REFORM-related products will support charities that advance gender equality.
Meek Mill (Criminal Justice Reform): Meek Mill is a critically-acclaimed multiplatinum rapper, songwriter and entrepreneur that hails from Philadelphia, PA. Meek Mill evolved from Philadelphia’s hottest underground rapper to one of the world’s preeminent musical artists, having released a slew of smash studio albums and singles, including “Ima Boss,” “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro),” “All Eyes on You” and “Whatever You Need” among many others. Following an arrest in 2007, Mill has been entrapped in the criminal justice system and shuffled in and out of court over technical probational violations all despite never committing a crime. Other artists and campaigners, such as Jay-Z, have supported Mill in his struggles and the #FreeMeekMill movement was born. Through this movement, Mill has highlighted the problems of the criminal justice system–including excessive probation regulations, the disproportionate bail system and the lack of rehabilitation programs available–and how they disproportionately affect people of color. Meek Mill will captain the #REFORM team for criminal justice reform, and all proceeds from sales of his #Reform related products will be donated to charities working to reform the criminal justice system.
Lead photo: (L-R) Adam Petrick, Meek Mill, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Tommie Smith and Bjorn Gulden attend the Puma #Reform To Drive Social Change launch at Atlanta History Center on October 6, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Puma.