Malcolm Jenkins is much more than just an American football player in the NFL. From founding The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation to working with the Greater Philadelphia community, the Byron “Whizzer” White Award-winner is quickly becoming one of the City’s most well known Philanthropists.
Your very involved with the community through your foundation among other charities. Can you tell us about The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation Holiday Dinner as well as any other charity events during this time?
MALCOLM JENKINS: The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation holds an annual Holiday Dinner Basket Surprise in Philadelphia and New Orleans—where I started my NFL career and won a Super Bowl. Each year, my Foundation works with 27 different non-profit organizations to identify 140 families to receive a holiday basket that includes a turkey and all of the fixings for a holiday meal. Many of these families are living in impoverished areas in Philly and have difficulty putting food on the table. It’s easy to take the opportunity to sit down with our families and enjoy a meal that, frankly, many cannot afford for granted.
We also work with the Fraternal Order of Police to collect toys for families who have children, and the Philadelphia Police & Police Athletic League to help us personally deliver the holiday dinner baskets and toys to families who truly need it. I believe through these type of activities we are one step closer to helping bridge the communication gap between the police and community.
You are involved in countless charities and organizations that benefit many groups, but particularly underprivileged youth. Tell us a bit about your position as a role model in the Philadelphia community.
MJ: My perspective about the importance of role models has evolved a bit over the years. I’m now certain that role models have an impact on children even when they may not intend to. So in turn, I am more aware of that potential impact at all times, and try to make sure the example I set is one that I would be proud of others following.
Human rights and social activism is a huge part of your platform. How do you feel about being one of the dominant voices in the national conversation about social justice and racial equality?
MJ: I feel like athletes, at this moment in history, have never been more popular and influential. There is a huge opportunity for us to impact the world in a way that many others can not, and with that opportunity comes great responsibility. I know there are people who do the thankless groundwork on a daily basis and I always keep them in mind. I have an opportunity to not only voice my opinions, but to bring to the table the voices of those who live these issues everyday. We are doing it for equality, civil rights, changing and reforming our criminal justice system, but also giving solutions, too.
On that topic, what are some things that you think need to happen immediately for real change to start taking shape?
MJ: Several members of the Players Coalition including myself, Chris Long and Torrey Smith have been advocating for Pennsylvania's Clean Slate Act, which would automatically seal the records of non-violent misdemeanors after a 10-year period, which is a game-changer when you find out that one in three working adults in PA have a criminal record. Most people don't realize that they have a voice and by contacting their Senator or Congressional Rep, they can place pressure to make change that benefit a large majority of people.
What do you hope your legacy will be in and beyond Philadelphia?
MJ: I enjoy being a professional football player. I love the game, and it has afforded me the opportunity to make a bigger impact in other people's lives off the field. I hope that the work I am engaged with to affect youth, criminal justice reform and racial equality on a local, state and federal level and in NFL communities across the country will live way beyond my pro career.