The Boston Red Sox unveiled a massive Black Lives Matter billboard Wednesday. The 250-foot billboard is adjacent to Fenway Park and faces the Massachusetts Turnpike. The huge sign features the words “Black Lives Matter” in the font of the Red Sox on a black background with the team’s logo at the end.
The billboard includes the URL to the Red Sox Foundation website for more information. On the site, Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy released a statement titled, “Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion,” regarding the recent police brutality cases that sparked protests across the country.
“I have been struggling to find the right words to express the profound anguish, outrage and confusion we are all feeling in the wake of the heartbreaking incidents that have occurred across the country over the past few months,” Kennedy wrote. “The senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are stark reminders that racism and police brutality continue to be pervasive in America.”
“Please know we stand with you,” Kennedy said of Red Sox personnel who have engaged in social justice protests. “Silence in the face of injustice is unacceptable. Thank you for your support of each other during these challenging times. Our work continues.”
The Red Sox Foundation website includes links to various social justice and advocacy sites, including Black Lives Matter, the George Floyd Memorial Fund, the Antiracism Center, and several bail fund donation sites that have become popular during the nationwide protests.
The Boston Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to integrate and have a black player on the roster. More than 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier and joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Red Sox signed Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, who made his debut on July 21, 1959.
The Black Lives Matter billboard was unveiled one day after the 61st anniversary of Green making his debut as the Red Sox’s first black player.
Last month, the Red Sox spelled out “Black Lives Matter” on the Green Monster scoreboard at Fenway Park. The team’s official Twitter account tweeted a photo of the scoreboard with the caption: “Our anger and grief must translate to action. We have a responsibility to use our platform to amplify messages of truth and justice.”
The Red Sox post included a retweet of a tribute to George Floyd from the official Black Lives Matter Twitter account.
Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Boston players are free to express any social justice messages or gestures during the upcoming season.
“We haven’t told players you have to do anything,” Roenicke said on Tuesday. “We’ve given them the rights, which is what this country is all about and the freedom to do what they feel strongly about. So we have said what we think and what we’d like them to do, but we also want to give them the opportunity to express themselves.”
“We’re all supportive of what the fight is about and so I think that by making sure that they know how we feel and whether it’s [owner] John [Henry] and [chairman] Tom [Werner] or [president/CEO] Sam [Kennedy] or [chief baseball officer] Chaim [Bloom], they’ve all said the same thing, that we’re supporting the BLM,” Roenicke added.
The MLB season is set to begin Thursday, with two games slated for Opening Day, which had been originally scheduled for March 26 before the coronavirus pandemic delayed the season. The Red Sox open the season against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday at Fenway Park.
The shortened 2020 MLB season will have only 60 games in 66 days. The games will be televised, but there will not be any fans in attendance because of the COVID-19 outbreak.