Red Sox Promote Anti-racism and Social Justice
The artifact is a billboard located on the outside building of Fenway Park where the Red Sox play in Boston, Massachusetts. This billboard promoting Black Lives Matter was put up right before opening day at Fenway.
I am choosing this artifact becauset this giant sign on the building actually really caught my attention when I went into Boston with my friends not too long ago. This photo perfectly depicts its location right outside the stadium, and if you really look at the photo you can see it actually overlooks the Massachusetts Turnpike. This was such an ideal artifact because it is located at one of the biggest tourist attractions in one of the capitals of New England where many people will be able to view it. The words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” are spelled out in the team's iconic font. The billboard was placed and paid for by the Red Sox Foundation. The sign also includes the Red Sox emblem to show that the team stands with the movement.
Red Sox CEO and President Sam Kennedy says that the reason behind the billboard is not a political statement or for endorsement, but rather to express the stance and support that the team as a whole wants to show towards the movement as well as their belief in a nondiscriminating, equal, and inclusive society. If viewers choose to follow the advertisement and visit the Red Sox Foundation page, additional information and a statement can be found in regards to "Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion" from the team President and CEO Sam Kennedy.
The reason this has importance is because the Mass Pike is a highly travelled and populated highway, and this giant sign really catches the eye as you are driving by it.The Red Sox have backed the Black Lives Matter Movement for a very long time, but the team also willingly admits to not having the most perfect track history either, stating that the team has its own racist past and they are trying to change that and show their support and spread a positive message about social justice and equality among everyone.
This sign does have more meaning behind it. Not only does it promote New England Sports teams support and dedication to the movement, but it also holds sentimental meaning to some of the players and former Red Sox players as well. Many former players have spoken up about the racial discrimination they have either faced, or witnessed, coming from fans at Fenway Park. One retired outfielder Torii Hunter admitted that he has been called the N-word by younger fans several times, and admitted that he has heard more racist remarks in Boston than any other city in the country. Soon after the billboard was put up, the Red Sox posted a tweet on Twitter (which can be seen in the article) in relation to Torii Hunter’s comments, explaining that the racism present is real and it does happen, not only to the Black players on the team, but also to the workers in the stadium on game days and how this small group of fans does not define nor represent the Red Sox fan base as a whole and how real change starts from within. Owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner also explain how the billboard is symbolic of the team's history and aims to help implement change after stating that the billboard helps to display their message about racial equality after being one of the last teams in the MLB to integrate when they signed Elijah in 1959.
The billboard was actually unveiled the day after the 61st anniversary of his signing to the Red Sox. This was not the only effort they made to promote anti-racism and social justice; after they became new owners in 2018 after former owner Tom Yawkey was fired for racial allegations, Henry and Warner had Yawkey Way renamed so it no longer associated the Red Sox with him and to show that Fenway Park is inclusive and welcoming to every person not even just involving race but also no matter your gender, sexuality, or preferences.One more thing that was done by the Red Sox team to promote their dedication to the movement was not only did they hang a giant billboard, but they also hung a 120 foot banner across a major portion of the seats and bleachers inside the actual stadium behind center field. The team and the Red Sox owners again state that this banner was put up as an acknowledgment of their dedication and commitment to racial justice in the community.
“120 foot long Black Lives Matter sign covers Fenway Park bleachers.” WCVB Channel 5 Boston, 24 July 2020, https://www.wcvb.com/article/120-foot-long-black-lives-matter-sign-covers-fenway-park-bleacher s/33418582.
Brito, Christopher. “Boston Red Sox put up massive Black Lives Matter billboard outside Fenway Park.” CBS News, 23 July 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/boston-red-sox-black-lives-matter-billboard-massachusetts-turn pike/.
Concha, Joe. “Boston Red Sox unveil 250-foot Black Lives Matter billboard next to Fenway Park.” The Hill, 23 July, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/media/508636-boston-red-sox-unveil-250-foot-black-livematter-b illboard-next-to-fenway?rl=1.
Mason, Chris. “Boston Red Sox: ‘Torii Hunter’s experience is real,’ racial slurs were reported 7 times at Fenway Park in 2019." MassLive, 10 June 2020, https://www.masslive.com/redsox/2020/06/boston-red-sox-ceo-sam-kennedy-torii-hunters-experi ence-is-real-racial-slurs-were-reported-7-times-at-fenway-park-in-2019.html.
Smith, Deyscha. “Sam Kennedy explained the ‘Black Lives Matter’ billboard outside Fenway Park.” Boston.Com, 23 July, 2020, https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-red-sox/2020/07/23/sam-kennedy-response-black-lives matter-billboard-fenway-park.
“WEB EXTRA: Black Lives Matter Billboard At Fenway Park." CBS Miami, 23 July 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_uV63Wfn8g.