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Boston Sports Community Comes Together to #TakeTheLead

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - The Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and Revolution all came together on Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park to launch a new initiative, Take The Lead, a collaboration between the professional sports teams to combat racism and hate speech.

At the event, the teams launched a new PSA opposing racism, hate, inequality, and discrimination, that will be shown at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and TD Garden. It featured current players from all five major Boston-area pro sports teams, and included Bruins Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask.

City and state officials were on hand, as well as representatives from all teams, including Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs.

Jacobs spoke about the trailblazing of Wille O'Ree, who became the first African American to play an NHL game in 1958 when he suited up in the Spoked-B. Jacobs also highlighted the Bruins' initiatives to be inclusive and represent that hockey is for everyone.

"This was about inclusion, this was about all of us," said Jacobs. "And I thought the messaging was really positive around this, on every front."

Other representatives on the panel included Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy, Celtics Senior Director of Community Engagement David Hoffman, President of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation Josh Kraft, and President of the New England Revolution Brian Bilello.

The former athletes represented on the panel included Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation Bob Sweeney, Hall of Fame Linebacker Andre Tippett, Celtics alum and NBA broadcaster Cedric Maxwell, and Red Sox Hall of Famer and Player Development Consultant Tommy Harper.

"What I take from this is a unification from all the major sports teams in Boston," said Sweeney. "You have every team represented, and I think the video the players put together was very powerful and my message is that everybody, regardless of race or gender, when you come to a major sporting event in the Boston area, we want you to enjoy your experience."

"No one should be bullied or targeted. The message that venues want to get out there, is 'if you see something, say something,'" said Sweeney.

The #TakeTheLead initiative is about taking action.

 

"A lot was talked about today - in not taking a step away, but taking a step forward, and that's what the message was today: take a step forward," Sweeney said. "All the teams want to be proactive about this."

Liz Walker, Pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church, emceed the event, which included a panel discussion on race that was moderated by WBZ-TV Sports Director Steve Burton.

"Today is about saying 'yes' to diversity and inclusion, and 'no' to racism," Walker said to the large crowd, which included young students and people of all ages.

Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and NAACP Boston Branch President Tanisha Sullivan were also on hand at the event.

Sullivan highlighted that the Boston sports teams consistently win against tough opponents, that racism is the toughest adversary, and that it will take everyone coming together to win.

"It's not 'us' against 'them,'" said Walker. "It's only 'us.'"

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Use the hashtag #TakeTheLead to show how you are taking the lead in your community, home, or workplace.

To request a downloadable version of the PSA or Take The Lead promotional items, or to learn more, head to taketheleadboston.org.

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