HBO’s June 8 Documentary News Series AXIOS to Focus on Race, Policing and Equal Justice

AXIOS, HBO’s documentary news series, June 8 will debut a new episode (11:00-11:40 p.m. ET/PT), focusing on conversations around race, policing and equal justice in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd, and about the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as parts of the country begin to re-open.

The show features Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) — House Majority Whip and highest ranking African-American elected official; Bishop Michael Curry — leader of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.; Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) — current congresswoman and former Orlando Police Chief; and Robert Fullilove, EdD — associate dean for community and minority affairs, and professor of clinical sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

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AXIOS is directed and produced by Emmy winners Matthew O’Neill and Perri Peltz, featuring analysis, exclusive documentary-style reporting and in-depth conversations on the topics and trends shaping America. The series is also available to stream on HBO Go, HBO Now and HBO Max, in addition to other partners’ platforms.

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NFL Says It Now Supports Peaceful Social Justice Protest

In a surprise move, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell late June 5 said the league now fully supports players voicing their concerns about social injustice and police brutality — a stance the NFL decidedly avoided in recent years, especially during the early days of the Trump Administration.

In a video posted on social media, Goodell, without naming any players (i.e. former San Francisco 49er QB Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 kneeled during the national anthem), said the NFL was wrong for ignoring previous protests about social injustice.

“We, the National Football League condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said on the video. “We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League believe black lives matter.”

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The admission comes 12 days after an unarmed black man (George Floyd) was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day. With the killing spurring violent protests across the country, and the fact African-American players comprise 70% of its on-field talent, the NFL, like many industries, has taken proactive steps to project an air of social and racial awareness.

That stance took a hit this week when rookie Buffalo Bills QB and former University of Georgia standout Jake Fromm was forced to apologize for racist comments he made in personal messaging that was leaked online.

Then veteran New Orleans QB Drew Brees, a fixture in NFL marketing, told a Yahoo Finance interview that he did not support anyone disrespecting the American flag. Kaepernick’s protests had been usurped by conservatives and President Trump, who claimed by kneeling the QB was dissing the flag, military, veterans and country.

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“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees told Yahoo.

Brees quickly apologized twice for his comments, saying he couldn’t imagine the hurt and anguish he had caused black teammates, fans and the city of New Orleans.

“[My comments] lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy,” Brees wrote on Instagram. “Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.”

Trump June 5 weighed in on the matter angrily tweeting that Brees should not have to apologize for his position on the flag.

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag,” Trump tweeted. “OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high. We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!”

Brees responded, saying he vowed to be an “ally” for black people and social justice.

“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been,” Brees wrote. “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.

“We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when?

“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”

The NFL has pledged $20 million in financial support to organizations fighting for social justice and racial equality.

Netflix, Disney, Hollywood Jump on ‘Black Lives Matter’ Bandwagon Following George Floyd Protests

With many major U.S. cities under curfew due to civilian unrest and riots following the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, Netflix, Disney, Hulu and several other Hollywood studios have taken to social media in support of peaceful protests.

Joining the SVOD services include Amazon Studios, Quibi, Lionsgate, HBO, Starz and Paramount Pictures, whose CEO Jim Gianopulos reportedly denounced the country’s systemic racism in a memo to staff.

“Too many members of the Black community have had their breath stolen from them through racial injustice,” Gianopulos wrote.

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On its Twitter page, Netflix May 30 wrote that to say nothing about the issue would be akin to being complicit about the injustice.

“Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up,” the streaming video pioneer wrote.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek, executive chairman Bob Iger and chief diversity officer Latondra Newton May 31 released a joint statement to Disney employees.

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“The recent killing of George Floyd as well as other instances of lethal attacks and harassment of unarmed black citizens in our nation continue to drive outrage and calls for action by people of all cultural backgrounds, including many of our employees,” they wrote. “Feelings of grief and anger cause us to confront the inscrutable idea that the lives of some are deemed less valuable — and less worthy of dignity, care and protection — than the lives of others.

“We intend to focus our efforts and resources to compassionately and constructively talk about these matters openly and honestly as we seek solutions. We intend to keep the conversation going, not just today, but for as long as it takes to bring about real change.”

Google-owned YouTube pledged $1 million to help fight social injustice. “We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt,” YouTube tweeted.

Hulu, whose former CEO Jason Kilar issued a separate staff memo on the topic at WarnerMedia, issued a social media post proclaiming support for social justice.

“We support Black lives. Today, and every day. You are seen. You are heard. And we are with you,” Hulu wrote.

HBO highlighted the late Black novelist James Baldwin regarding ignorance on the issue. “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: Indifference makes one blind,” wrote Baldwin.

“We stand with our Black colleagues, employees, fans, actors, storytellers — and all affected by senseless violence,” HBO wrote.

“Color of Change and the NAACP are among the organizations taking the lead in the fight for racial justice in America. We support them in their mission and you can too,” Starz tweeted.

Amazon’s video platform Twitch wrote on Twitter that black people “have been suffering under the oppressive weight of racism in America for far too long.”

“We cannot delight in the creative contributions of the Black community on Twitch and remain silent while they are in pain. We’re asking you to come together to and stand up for Black lives whether it’s through your time, treasure, or talent. Don’t let today’s injustice stop us from creating a better tomorrow for our community,” Twitch wrote.