The 2020 MLB season kicked off on Thursday when the Washington Nationals took on the New York Yankees. And before the game started, both teams protested against the racial injustice going on in the country by kneeling before the national anthem. After taking batting practice in Black Lives Matter t-shirts, the Nationals and Yankees players stood on their respective baselines while a video from The Players Alliance was shown promoting the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the New York Post. Then a 200-yard piece of fabric extended from beyond first base to beyond third base via home plate with each man holding it. Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman's voice was heard in the ballpark and shared these words.
"In order to achieve effective change and create a new canvas of optimism, empathy must lead the charge, Freeman said. "This moment signifies our charge. Our brotherhood. Our unity. Equality and unity cannot be until there is empathy. Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals, all with the same goal — to level the playing field. To change the injustices. Equality is not just a word. It's our right! Today we stand as men from 25 nations on six continents. Today, we are one." From there, everyone took a knee before standing for the national anthem.
Everybody on both teams took a knee prior to the anthem. Then stood for the anthem. pic.twitter.com/Z186ZDEsU9— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) July 23, 2020
Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was the one who led the initiative and convinced the Nationals to join in. After the game, Stanton said: "I thought … it would be good to show unity to have everyone kneel at the same time with everything going on: The road it took us to back here, the injustice going on across the country and the globe."
The Yankees and Nationals won't be the only teams supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. As other teams start their 60-game season, players will be allowed to wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt during batting practice and a patch that reads "Black Lives Matter or "United For Change" that can be put on a player's sleeve. Earlier this week, San Francisco Giants players kneeled during the national anthem. Giants manager Gabe Kapler also took a knee, making him the first head coach from the four major pro sports leagues in North America to protest in that manner. The Cincinnati Reds also kneeled before their exhibition contest.