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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The ESPY Awards make sure viewers know Black Lives Matter

Russell Wilson, Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe opened the ESPY Awards with a message of unity.
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Breonna Taylor

(CNN)The 2020 ESPY Awards opened up with a powerful message Sunday.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, US Women’s National Team soccer star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA guard Sue Bird were all wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts. The three athletes not only discussed historic athletes who stood up to racism like Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, but they also discussed the current climate and how returning to sports shouldn’t be a return to the way things were before protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police.

“The only thing that must die is racism. Black Lives Matter,” Wilson said. “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.”

Wilson said his white teammates and friends also need to lead.

“Don’t just listen, help,” he said.

Bird said Black lives need to matter outside of sports.

“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,” she said. “It’s great that sports are back, but George Floyd won’t be there to see them, Breonna Taylor won’t be there to see them.”

Rapinoe said the recent protests are the breaking point for White people.

“This time, we’ve got to have their backs,” she said. “We can’t let sports try and take us back to the way things were. Every athlete at every level has the power to show what it looks like to fight for what is right.”

Wilson, Rapinoe and Bird join a growing list of athletes calling for justice for Black people killed by police. Others have included LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
This year’s ESPYs, like the NFL draft, were virtual. Aside from the opening, Sunday’s award show featured messages and images from protests around the country as well as songs and spoken words calling for the uplifting of Black women.
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