Justin Williams’ Legion of Los Angeles cycling team has launched a fundraiser to help increase diversity and inclusion in the sport.
The team have already surpassed their goal of $50,000, which will be used to support junior programmes as well as provide riders with grants, camps and equipment.
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“Legion of Los Angeles was founded by the US National Champion Justin Williams, with the goal of injecting life into American cycling. We are showing that representation matters from the top of the podium and giving our hearts and souls to bring hope and acceptance to the outdoor world,” the team wrote on their fundraising page.
“The time is now! We are taking control of our own destiny. The team is building a future where everyone is welcome. The reimagining of cycling has started and it has a new face.”
In just four days the team reached their fundraising target, with their GoFundMe page currently still open for donations. Williams is the current USA national criterium champion, having won the title in both 2018 and 2019, while also taking winning multiple national track championships during his career.
“We are the change we want to see…we are on a mission to become the only black-owned professional cycling team in America in 2021,” they wrote last week on their Instagram page. “As of right now there are no black professional cyclists in America and we will change that and set an example for kids of all colours.”
In light of the George Floyd protests in the USA, Specialized, one of Legion’s sponsors, said it had been part of cycling’s “problem with race” over the past decades, describing cycling as a “walled garden of exclusion”.
“We aren’t looking for plaudits, and we’re not here to signal our outrage,” its statement read, as the company asked their customers to tell them how they can do better in the future.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Specialized’s reassurance that Legion of Los Angeles is here to stay,” Williams replied. “They have made it clear to me that they will support me in everything I’m saying. They are invested in our team as an American team lead by a black man. We have taken the first steps in showing that these issues are important. Now it time to put this mission at the front of the brands’ priorities.”