Los Angeles Angels reliever Keynan Middleton Tuesday evoked the names of Jackie Robinson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in explaining why he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
“Racism is something I’ve dealt with my entire life,” Middleton wrote on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. “As a Black man in this country it is my obligation to want to better the future for generations to come.
“Over the past few months I’ve been out in the community taking part in peaceful protests and having the difficult conversations that are needed for change.
“Before pioneers like Jackie Robinson, a Black man didn’t have a voice in the game of baseball. The foundation laid down and sacrifices made by Jackie and others is the reason I have the platform I do.
“I will not allow that to go to waste. Kneeling for me is one way I can use my platform for change in a peaceful way. I have the utmost respect for all the brave men and women that served this country.
“We must all take this fight against racial injustice seriously. Until things start to change in this country and my brothers and sisters don’t have to live in fear I will be using my platform to implement change.
“Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
“Though this, I strive to be a voice for unity.”
Middleton took a knee and clenched his right fist above his head during the playing of the national anthem before the Angels 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres Monday night at Petco Park.
Several members of the San Francisco Giants and manager Gabe Kapler also took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before their exhibition game Monday night in Oakland against the Athletics.
“Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!” President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Middleton was drafted by the Angels in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. He made his major league debut in 2017. He has a 6-1 record with nine saves and a 3.23 ERA in 91 appearances, all in relief. He missed most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
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