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Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the no-hitter in Clayton Kershaw’s Hall of Fame career, a 15-strikeout, no-walk masterpiece against the Colorado Rockies that fell an error short of a perfect game. That performance will be remembered long after his career is over. So will what he did on a more recent June 18.
On June 18, 2020, while Major League Baseball remained shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kershaw, normally averse to the spotlight, did something unusual. He spoke up, unsolicited, with a message on Twitter.
“Silence won’t cut it,” he tweeted. “We have to start by saying something and STANDING up for our Black brothers and sisters. I want to listen, I want to learn, I want to do better and be different. I want my kids to be different.”
The timing was not a coincidence. Kershaw expressed his thoughts the day before Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
On Friday, Kershaw reiterated his desire to remain an ally in the movement against racial injustice through Kershaw’s Challenge, his foundation centered on serving vulnerable and at-risk children.
“I think when you have a white kid and a Black kid grow up, regardless of socioeconomic status, or whatever it may be, they should at least have an opportunity in their life and a future and an ability to go to high school and an ability to graduate, an ability to go to college,” Kershaw said. “If they want to put the same amount of work in, it shouldn’t be that because of where you grow up or who your parents are that you can’t go to high school or you can’t go to college. Or the color of your skin.”
Dodgers pitcher David Price, who is Black, praised Kershaw’s initiative last year. Price hopes it still resonates coming from someone of Kershaw’s stature and background.
“I know a lot of people appreciated it,” Price said Friday.
“It’s bigger than baseball. He can affect a lot of lives in a positive way. That’s the way to go about life, in general, just to be able to impact others.”
Kershaw has said Price and Mookie Betts were among the current and former teammates who helped educate him on systemic racism. They compelled him to go public, to become an ally. A year later, the effort — and Kershaw’s support — continues.
“Nothing that we’ve done is going to fix anything, but I think we’ve made progress as far as programs that we’ve built and some different things that we’ve supported I think we’ve helped grow an understanding of what we’ve been able to do,” Kershaw said.
“And just for myself, personally, continue to learn and continue to understand what social justice really means and what that looks like.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.