Freddie asking, learning about race, injustice

August 28th, 2020

admits he felt somewhat uncomfortable before calling his good friend Jason Heyward about a month ago.

“I FaceTimed him and I opened up,” Freeman said. “I said, ‘Jason, it’s time to have a talk. I need some help. I want to learn.’”

Freeman wanted to learn more about the intended message of those athletes who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem. He knew these athletes were protesting racial injustices, but to more deeply understand, he knew it was best to share a conversation with Heyward.

“That’s all I can do is keep asking questions,” said Freeman, who has been one of Heyward’s closest friends dating back to 2007, when they were drafted by the Braves.

As the Braves prepared to play in Philadelphia and celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, Freeman called a team meeting to discuss what he had learned from a phone conversation he shared with Touki Toussaint on Thursday night.

Toussaint has become very active with The Players Alliance, a group of current and former Black players focused on issues of equality in Major League Baseball and the community. Heyward is on the Active Player Advisory Board.

The members of The Players Alliance agreed to donate their salaries from Thursday and Friday to aid in the fight against racial inequality and aid Black families and communities deeply affected by recent events.

Freeman explained the group’s mission and told his teammates how they could join the others across the baseball world who chose to donate their daily salary.

“I just wanted to make sure the whole team was aware of the amazing work [The Players Alliance] is doing,” Freeman said. “That’s what it’s all about, just opening the conversation. It’s been very eye-opening not only for me, but for a lot of people.”

Major League Baseball chose to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Aug. 28 for two reasons. It’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson Family attended, and it also is the date in '45 when Robinson and Branch Rickey met to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In conjunction with the celebration, MLB announced a partnership extension with the JRF Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards. The extension is through 2023 and includes a $3.5 million commitment on behalf of MLB.