The Boston Red Sox unveiled a 250-foot “Black Lives Matter” billboard outside Fenway Park on Thursday, marking the 61st anniversary of the first game played by Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the team’s first black player.
Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy has been outspoken in support of demonstrations against police killings of African Americans that have roiled the U.S. since late May. Sparked by the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd during his arrest, the demonstrations have devolved in some cases into rioting in major U.S. cities and the toppling of various historical monuments, ranging from Confederate general Robert E. Lee to abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
“I am so grateful to my teammates who consistently remind me that the Red Sox have an obligation to amplify the voices of those who share our values, but do not share our platform,” Kennedy wrote in a June 3 post on the team’s website. “Silence in the face of injustice is unacceptable.”
Manager Ron Roenicke said on Tuesday that he would support any player who chooses to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before games as a form of protest.
This year’s baseball season is set to begin on Thursday in a Washington, D.C., game between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals. No spectators will be permitted in stadiums this year because of concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Several sports teams have come under scrutiny during the period of protests over their use of names and logos that recall Native Americans. The Washington Redskins football team announced last week that it would change its name amid corporate pressure.