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Madeleine Ivey
By Keisha Lance Bottoms
February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

Conventional wisdom would lead most all-star athletes to capitalize on their success at the pinnacle of their career. However, 2020 was an unconventional year, and Renee Montgomery is an unconventional woman.

Last summer, as Renee, a sports analyst who was at the time a guard for the Atlanta Dream, saw demonstrators fill the streets of Atlanta demanding justice, she felt compelled to act upon her conscience and called her mother for advice. As only a mother can, Bertlela Montgomery told her daughter, “If you can’t make your voice heard, you’re gonna make it felt.”

Renee met the moment and announced that she was opting out of the WNBA’s 2020 season to work for social–justice reform. Less than a year later, through a series of initiatives focused on education and political engagement, Renee has cemented her place in Atlanta’s long history of leadership on civil rights.

A month after her announcement, Atlanta wept as we lost our hero, Congressman John Lewis. As Psalms reminds us, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. In the spirit of all that Congressman Lewis left with us, Renee is an inspirational leader, part of a new generation embodying the conscience of our communities.

Bottoms, a Democrat, is the mayor of Atlanta

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