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San Jose Earthquakes Akanyirige, Haji participate in MLS Black Lives Matter display

Duo joins dozens from around league to offer profound symbolic speech.

MLS: Inter Miami CF at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the opening game of the MLS is Back Tournament Wednesday night, between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami, an extraordinary display took place pregame between players across the league alongside the two teams.

Black players from various teams, not including players who have to quarantine or restrict access due to recent arrival in Orlando, entered the field and stood, knelt and held a fist aloft in a coordinated routine around the teams, who knelt around the center circle.

Two San Jose Earthquakes players, Jacob Akanyirige and Siad Haji, took part in the symbolic speech act.

The inclusion of Black players from other teams came about as organized by the Black Players for Change group, a new organization of Black players around MLS. The group expects to be in the midst of efforts to promote social justice in the coming weeks and months, and representative Justin Morrow said on ESPN Wednesday that the league has been in regular dialogue with them to effect positive change.

The display put on by the players Wednesday was incredibly powerful and emotional. Not only was the length of time the group stayed silent symbolic of the death of George Floyd, among others, but it provided everyone watching with a real opportunity for personal reflection. Let’s hope we take advantage of that and go out and act.

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