Major League Soccer players wore Juneteenth-inspired jerseys on Friday to celebrate the weekend of June 19, the anniversary of the effective end of slavery in the United States.

The New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC players were the first to wear the Juneteenth-inspired numbers at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, with each MLS team planning to do them this weekend in a collaboration between the League and Black Players for Change Bear (BPC).

– Yates: MLS and Black Players for Change are collaborating on the June effort

The league has also scheduled a limited edition kit auction and the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (often referred to as the black national anthem) before the games.

The league said in a statement Thursday, “Major League Soccer today announced plans to recognize the Juneteenth – the effective end to slavery in the United States – through a series of initiatives that celebrate freedom.

“The limited edition kit numbers and packaging illustrate the history and importance of Juneteenth and pay homage to Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. The imagery reinforces the message that black players in MLS stand upright because they stand on the shoulders of freedom . ” Fighters who came before them. “

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union forces in Galveston, Texas brought news of the Emancipation Proclamation to the area.

The US Congress passed a bill on Wednesday making June 10 a federal holiday, the first time in nearly 40 years that the US government has introduced a new national holiday. President Joe Biden signed the law on Thursday.

Uniformly. pic.twitter.com/EP0qGGYZtR

– New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) June 19, 2021

“This league-wide recognition is a wonderful celebration of the freedom made possible by our close collaboration with Black Players for Change,” said Sola Winley, MLS executive vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

“It was our common hope to honor this significant moment in American history by celebrating the freedom fighters of our past and recognizing the freedom fighters of today who continue to shed light on the need for equality, prosperity and freedom for all over a period of time of only one year we have decided to take meaningful measures for changes inside and outside of our sport. “

Toronto FC Defender and BPC Executive Director Justin Morrow said: “We helped build this initiative to bridge the gap between the generations celebrating June 16 and all those who are unveiled to this day.

“We hope these jerseys will help shed light on the historical significance of Juneteenth, which is a necessary context for our society today. Understanding black history is essential to building a better society.”