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Keynan Middleton kneels during national anthem to protest racial injustice

“Kneeling for me is one way I can use my platform for change in a peaceful way,” Angels pitcher says

Angels pitcher Keynan Middleton took a knee and raised his right fist in the air during the national anthem before the team’s exhibition game Monday night against the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego, to protest racial injustice in the United States.

“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 a tweet on Tuesday morning. “Over the past few months I’ve been out in the community taking part in peaceful protest 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 why I have the platform I do. I will not allow that to go to waste,” Middleton continued. “Kneeling for me is one way I can use my platform for change in a peaceful way.”

After the game, manager Joe Maddon said Middleton had discussed with the team his plan to kneel, and expressed disappointment that he didn’t do it previously. The team was totally supportive of Middleton.

“He’s very passionate about his beliefs. That’s what he showed you tonight,” Maddon said via a Zoom call. “I’m very proud he stood up for his beliefs tonight. It’s not easy to do that, a young man like himself being the only one out here doing that. I’m very proud of his substance.”

Maddon said players and organizational staff have had several Zoom calls regarding Black Live Matter, kneeling during the anthem, and other social justice matters, both during and before summer camp.

“The thing I’ve encouraged all of these guys to do is speak their own truth, and that’s exactly the phrase I’ve utilized,” Maddon said. “What’s in your heart, that’s what you have to demonstrate.”

Angels coordinator of hitting analysis Ryan Parker has been a part of those Zoom meetings.