Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow is heading up the newly formed Black Players Coalition of MLS, aimed at addressing racial inequality in the league and positively impacting Black communities across Canada and the U.S.
The coalition was announced Friday on Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S.
“We pledge to help bridge the racial equality gap that exists in our league by lobbying for initiatives like implicit bias training, cultural education courses, and diversification hiring practices,” the coalition said.
“Beyond addressing these overlooked systematic issues round soccer in this country [the U.S.], the BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have prevented Black people from having an equitable stake in society.”
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The coalition said more than 70 Black MLS players have banded together with Ray Gaddis (Philadelphia Union), CJ Sapong (Chicago Fire), Quincy Amarikwa (formerly D.C. United), Kendall Waston (FC Cincinnati), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Bill Hamid (DC. United), Earl Edwards Jr. (D.C. United), Jalil Anibaba (Nashville SC), Kei Kamara (Colorado Rapids) and Ike Opara (Minnesota United) serving as board members.
Morrow will serve as executive director.
While the coalition says it is a stand-alone organization, it will partner with the MLS Players Association and MLS on racial issues, other initiatives and charitable donations. So far it says it has secured US$75,000 in charitable donations by the MLSPA on its behalf.
<a href=”https://twitter.com/BPCMLS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BPCMLS</a> is about giving BLACK PLAYERS in MLS a VOICE and making SYSTEMIC CHANGE both in & outside of our league.<a href=”https://t.co/wO79U8iKST”>https://t.co/wO79U8iKST</a><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MLSisBLACK?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MLSisBLACK</a> <a href=”https://t.co/t2oaHtzfjD”>pic.twitter.com/t2oaHtzfjD</a>
“As we celebrate Juneteenth and the coming together of our coalition, we must remind ourselves that such progressivism was once met with vehement backlash,” the coalition said. “May this reminder serve as a warning to us all that confronting systematic racism head-on will never be a smooth, constantly upward-trending path, but rather a timeless battle that will force us to reinvent the very essence of our institutions.
“We hope our organization can be an extension of our ancestors’ sacrifice for the next generation to live in a more equitable society as we seek to forge our own path forward under one united voice.”
MLS issued a statement in support, saying it “proudly recognizes and supports” the group and called its members “influential change leaders.
MLS supports the <a href=”https://twitter.com/BPCMLS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BPCMLS</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MLSisBlack?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MLSisBlack</a>. <a href=”https://t.co/DoELrjrtl7″>pic.twitter.com/DoELrjrtl7</a>