A little after 8 pm on July 8, 2020, Orlando City and Inter Miami kicked off to open the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. It was a groundbreaking moment.
But history will remember that night not for the 90 minutes of action, but for the moment of stillness that took place just before the opening whistle. That's when more than 170 Black players, coaches and staff from across the league took to the field and silently raised their fists in a powerful demonstration for racial equality and human rights.
Organized by the newly formed Black Players for Change in MLS (BPC), the protest set the tone for the tournament's social message and reinforced MLS's commitment as a league to fostering productive conversations, both internally and externally, and to helping the BPC bring about important changes.
Now the prematch demonstration of July 8 is featured in a short documentary film that takes fans deeper into the story of the BPC's founding, the emotions of the players who willed it into existence, and the impact of the protest.
Released on Tuesday and featured on TheRoot.com, Say It Loud: The Story behind the Protest was created by the BPC in partnership with Black Arrow (FC), a lifestyle and content brand that aims to "bridge the gap between soccer and Black culture." Filmed in Orlando during the MIB Tournament, the film runs precisely 8 minutes and 46 seconds -- in reference to the police killing of George Floyd — and includes exclusive and intimate interviews with Black players from across MLS.
“This is bigger than soccer,” BPC Executive Director and Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow says. “This is the testimony of our lives in America, and our brothers' and sisters' lives across the globe."
Say It Loud was created by Aaron Dolores and Ime Umoh of Black Arrow, which also recently announced a content partnership with the LA Galaxy.
“After the murder of George Floyd, I began talking with some of my brothers from around the league, like [Philadelphia Union defender] Mark McKenize and [Nashville SC defender] Jalil Anibaba, about what we could to address what was happening in society," Dolores says. “They told me all the Black players in the league were planning to demonstrate together at the opening match of the tournament and asked if Black Arrow would come in the bubble to help tell their story."
Here is that story: