The Call Up

Toronto FC's Justin Morrow: Why Black Players for Change is so special, what's next

Justin Morrow - Toronto FC - Running

As players throughout MLS joined the fight for social justice and equality throughout 2020 and into 2021, Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow emerged as one of the most vocal leaders.

The veteran left back has continued to speak out and take action as the executive director of the player-led Black Players for Change Coalition. Recently, he discussed some of their work on The Call Up with Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits. 

"We have a special environment because we are player-led," Morrow said. "Guys speak up like never before and that's not always in the case, even in locker rooms, or in something like a players' association. We feel like brothers, so whether it's amongst ourselves or we're talking to potential partners or we're talking to the league about things that we want to work within and change and implement, guys speak up. And that's very special because really I feel like I'm in a fight with them. And that's special after having been in the league for so long and playing against these guys so many years, day in and day out."

Morrow, 33, outlined some what's already been done in collaboration between the league and BPC, as well as their broader goals for the future. The aspirations include increasing Black representation throughout the league.

"We've been working closely with the league on a lot of things. After the protest where we decided not to play in coordination with the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA, we were able to sit down with the Board of Governors and had a very good touch-base to explain ourselves, who we are, what we care about, what we want to see happen," Morrow said. "And from that we were able to create a Diversity Committee. Through that we'll be able to implement policy and change, and so that stuff is coming. The league just this week announced the hiring of a Chief DE&I officer, which is something they'd been saying they wanted to do for a long time and I think is going to help in terms of having someone day-to-day in and out on top of these issues and spread out that workload a little bit.

"Things are coming through the pipeline. We've always said that we want to increase Black representation: more Black head coaches, more Black executives, front office, assistant coaches. And then on the other end of the spectrum we want to see more Black children playing this game, because we want it to be indicative of our community here in North America. We have a very diverse community and right now our sport just doesn't show that enough and it could be better. So we're going to work on that on the league level for sure."

For more from Morrow on The Call Up, check out the entire episode here.