Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
As Major League Baseball and the NBA are resuming play this month, athletes are prepared to use their platform to continue speaking out on social justice issues.
The NBA is giving players the opportunity to share a message on the back of their jersey in lieu of their name. The league also plans to paint “Black Lives Matter” on all three courts that teams will use at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
It remains unclear if MLB will follow suit with a similar strategy, but Oakland Athletics second baseman Tony Kemp revealed the league’s African American players will make a statement of unity on Opening Day.
Such could mean taking a knee during the National Anthem. Former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell famously did so during the 2017 season, but was met with sharp criticism by those who felt he was disrespecting the flag.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts disagreed with Maxwell at the time, but wouldn’t be opposed to players kneeling this season to peacefully protest racism, via ESPN’s Marly Rivera:
“I definitely think that people can change their views with more information. Initially, when Kaepernick was taking a knee, I focused [in 2017] on my father and I equated it to what he did for our country. As I have learned more, I have come to understand that it was a peaceful protest. Black people have tried different means and haven’t been heard. We can’t have it both ways, wanting people to protest peacefully, but then when they do it, that’s wrong, too.
“This country is built on freedom of speech. I’ve certainly softened on [my] stance. For me, personally, I would still stand in front of the flag. But I do understand that there is social inequality and we still have a long way to go. And to be quite honest, if that’s what it takes to keep momentum and keep it front of mind, then it’s a good thing.”
Maxwell was the only MLB player to kneel as a form of peaceful protest in 2017. He has been out of the league since 2018.
Maxwell believes kneeling during the National Anthem is the primary reason why he hasn’t been able to catch on with a new organization. He is currently playing for Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League.
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler and several of the team’s players took a knee during exhibition play this week.
Clayton Kershaw urging white athletes to promote change
Last month, Clayton Kershaw issued a statement on the eve of Juneteenth, recognizing the importance of the day while extending his support to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The left-hander believes white athletes have an obligation to use their voice to facilitate the necessary change needed for equality throughout society. His powerful words were met with praise from the likes of David Price, Kenley Jansen and Walker Buehler.
Kershaw then was among 10 Dodgers players who came together for a powerful video that addressed racial injustice.
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