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Russell Wilson, Megan Rapinoe open ESPYS with call for action against racial injustice

ESPN opened its award show with a shout-out to Colin Kaepernick and its hosts calling for sports to be used as a platform for change.
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the coronavirus pandemic — opened with a message that might have shocked observers just a few months ago.

Russell Wilson, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, the intro started by invoking the names of Jackie Robinson, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali and Serena Williams, then moved onto a few more names, like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

All three athletes called on the sports world, especially white athletes, to continue pushing for change in the wake of Floyd’s killing.

“This is our moment to prove that we know a better world is one where Black lives are valued.”@DangeRussWilson, @S10Bird and @mPinoe open the 2020 #ESPYS. pic.twitter.com/ntJzgtkhMq

— ESPN (@espn) June 22, 2020

The segment ended with the trio essentially saying the return of sports should be used as a platform for change.

Shut up and dribble” contingent of American commentary.

Now, one of the network’s flagship events is opening with messages that include the following.

Wilson:

“As millions of people of all colors protest, I see a world of hurt, pain and despair. But I also see a new generation. A generation that is calling out in desperate need for lasting change. To my white teammates and friends, we need you to lead, too. Don’t just listen. Help.”

Rapinoe:

“For centuries, there have been fights for justice and equality in this country, led by Black people. This movement is no different, but as white people, this is the breaking point. This time, we’ve got to have their backs.”

Bird:

“Trust us, we know that sports are important. It’s why we’re gathered here tonight. But do Black lives matter to you when they’re not throwing touchdowns, grabbing rebounds, serving aces? If that was uncomfortable to hear, good. I used to shy away from moments like this because it’s convenient to be quiet. To be thought of as safe and polite. Colin Kaepernick never shied away. He knew that discomfort was essential to liberation and that fighting the oppression against Black people is bigger than sports.”

ESPN found a new voice for its awards show after the killing of George Floyd. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban pledging to use his resources to help Black and brown business owners get better access to capital:

“This is the tipping point. There’s no going back. There’s no inching forward. The time is now.”

Stars from the sports and entertainment worlds say it’s time to step up and do their part to make this country better. pic.twitter.com/Fttyl8to0v

— ESPN (@espn) June 22, 2020

reported to have used Black designers for the event.” data-reactid=”47″>Bird and Rapinoe later appeared in T-shirts featuring Floyd’s initials and were reported to have used Black designers for the event.

exited the network amid political blowback just two years ago.

My mind is literally blown watching this #ESPYs intro.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 22, 2020

Blackest #ESPYs of all time and I just don’t even know how to process what I’m seeing on screen.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 22, 2020

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