MLB pitcher says he’s using his platform to ‘implement change’ after kneeling during the National Anthem

Sports

As the National Anthem rang out across the baseball field Monday, Los Angeles Angels’ relief pitcher Keynan Middleton took a knee and raised his fist, adding his voice to the widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Middleton, who has been outspoken about the Black Lives Matter movement on his social media accounts, said in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he had participated in peaceful protests over the past few months. He wrote that he decided to kneel before Monday’s exhibition game against the San Diego Padres so he could use his platform “to implement change.”

“Racism is something I’ve dealt with my entire life. As a Black man in this country it is my obligation to want to better the future for generations to come,” Middleton said in his Instagram post.

Middleton said he has a platform because of the sacrifices made by earlier generations, citing MLB legend Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in the major leagues.

“I will not allow that to go to waste,” he wrote. “Kneeling for me is one way I can use my platform for change in a peaceful way.”

While many have argued that kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful to the military, the 26-year-old pitcher said that he had the “utmost respect for all the brave men and women that served this country.”

Middleton ended his post by quoting Martin Luther King Jr., who said that individuals only begin living once they “can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“Through this, I strive to be a voice for unity,” Middleton wrote.

From the National Women’s Soccer League to a high school baseball team in Iowa, athletes of all ages and sports have been kneeling in support of the ongoing protests for social justice and racial equality.

After a number of players with the San Francisco Giants knelt during the National Anthem along with the team’s manager on Monday, one Twitter user told the team and the league to “keep politics out of baseball.”

MLB promptly responded, “Supporting human rights is not political.”

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