A group of African American women (members of the "Smart Set Club") pose on a staircase
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Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Her story is your story.

Portrait of Michele Roberts
I played to win.
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Michele Roberts

Lawyer, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association

I SAY THIS TO young people, especially those of color: Don’t worry whether you’re the only one, worry whether you’re the best one. 

There are things you cannot change. I can’t change that I’m an African American woman, and as it turns out, I like being an African American woman. 

The players rely on me to stand up and be their voice. I intend to be the best executive director in the history of the players union. I better be because if I’m not, then some silly person will say, 'well, she was a girl.'

The pen Michele Roberts used to sign a labor agreement between NBA players and owners is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of not backing down at the negotiating table. 

Credits

Photo: Keh, Andrew, “Smashing a Ceiling and A Lot of Egos, Michele Roberts, N.B.A. Union’s New Leader, Confronts Gender Barriers,” The New York Times, August 16, 2014. PHOTO GABRIELLA DECZUK 

Content: Chafkin, Max, “Outside Shooter,” The Atlantic, May 2015; Chew–Bose, Durga, “The Lenny Interview: Michele Roberts,” ELLE, October 2, 2015; Spears, Marc J.,“The Undefeated Interview: Michele Roberts,” undefeated.com, May 23, 2016
 

 

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The American Women’s History Initiative will amplify women’s voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future.

Bella Abzug (in hat), Betty Freidan (right, in trench coat) and Billie Jean King (far right) accompany torch relay runners into Houston, 1977. Unknown photographer; National Archives
About the image
Bella Abzug (in hat), Betty Freidan (right, in trench coat) and Billie Jean King (far right) accompany torch relay runners into Houston, 1977. Unknown photographer; National Archives.