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MLS to Auction Commemorative Jerseys for Juneteenth

Last Updated: June 30, 2023
The MLS Juneteenth initiative will auction 29 jerseys with funds going to local organizations impacting Black communities.

Each of the 29 Major League Soccer teams will auction off one team-signed special collectible jersey as part of the league’s Juneteenth initiative. Funds from the jerseys will go to organizations that impact the Black community in each club’s local market, MLS announced on Wednesday.

“The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share,” is a close collaboration between the league, teams, and Black Players for Change. The latter is an independent organization of Black MLS players, coaches, and staff looking to bridge the racial equality gap in soccer and across the board. MLS and BPC collaborated with Charcoal Pitch F.C. founder and renowned photographer Mel D. Cole as the creative lead for the Juneteenth campaign.

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Cole chose Black artist Gianni Lee, a multidisciplinary visual artist exploring themes of racial inequality, communication, and technology. Lee designed special jerseys that include elements of hands, seeds, and flowers on the backs of each, with the number 19 and no player name attached.

Photos via MLS

“Storytelling is undeniably one of the most influential modes of communication,” Lee said. “Just like seeds, stories have the ability to propagate and disseminate information in the absence of modern technology. Collaborating with MLS, I was solely dedicated to exploring that concept through a soccer jersey. By incorporating my ‘blue hand’ motif, I aimed to narrate the tale of African cultural unity in the diaspora and illustrate how it continues to flourish, akin to a plant, within the fabric of American society each passing day.”

A commemorative patch was also added to the shoulders of each jersey. To further honor the moment, select MLS matches will feature Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” from Wednesday through Sunday. Over the course of its recent Juneteenth celebrations, MLS has raised more than $300,000 for local Black organizations in MLS cities. Fans can bid on the jerseys at MLSauctions.com.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.