MLS announced on Wednesday the 2023 edition of its annual Juneteenth initiative: “The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share,” inspired by the art of Black artist Gianni Lee.
Collectible jersey auction
The 29 collectible jerseys will be signed by players and auctioned off, with funds going to organizations that impact the Black community in each club’s local market. As a new addition, a commemorative patch was designed to complement the 29 unique jerseys representing each individual MLS club. Fans can bid on the collectibles at MLSauctions.com.
Fans will also have the opportunity to purchase commemorative patches and numbers on the Black Players For Change website.
To commemorate this key marker in US history, MLS and Black Players for Change (BPC) collaborated with world-renowned photographer, and founder of Charcoal Pitch FC, Mel D. Cole, who was tapped as the creative lead for the Juneteenth campaign. Cole selected Lee to design the 2023 MLS Juneteenth-inspired, “The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share” collectible jerseys.
“Juneteenth is a holiday that gives us a chance to reflect on our history, and appreciate the progress we have made,” said Earl Edwards Jr., President, Black Players For Change. “Black Players for Change was established to generate change within MLS, and it’s local communities.
"Since our inception, we have been working closely with MLS to accomplish our goals, and the Juneteenth jersey is another example of the incredible work we have been able to do together. With the addition of Mel D. Cole, and Gianni Lee, to this year's collaboration, we were able to take our Juneteenth celebrations to new heights and I look forward to fans seeing the final jersey.”
Lift Every Voice and Sing
In honor of Juneteenth, select MLS matches will feature The Black National Anthem (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”) beginning Wednesday, June 14 and throughout the weekend’s games on June 17.
The Juneteenth initiatives in 2023 are a continuation of MLS’ efforts to drive positive social change and encourage racial reconciliation. In November 2021, MLS unveiled a series of updates and enhancements to its Diversity Hiring Policy for sporting positions with its clubs. The changes, created with a working group of club personnel, League executives, Black Players for Change and other current and former MLS players, were made to increase the policy’s efficacy, add a specific focus on the hiring of Black candidates and strengthen the policy’s enforcement mechanisms.
In March 2022, MLS leveraged a historic $25 million loan from a syndicate of Black banks, marking the first time any sports league has participated in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black banks. The partnership was facilitated by the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation.
Through its recent Juneteenth celebrations, Major League Soccer has raised more than $300,000 for local Black impact organizations in MLS cities. The proceeds from this season’s Juneteenth initiatives will benefit organizations that support and uplift Black communities in MLS markets.