The Cincinnati Reds welcomed Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King to Great American Ball Park for the official announcement of the Reds’ participation in the King family’s recently announced Realizing the Dream initiative.
King III, son of Martin Luther King Jr., visited the ballpark with his wife, Arndrea, to speak with the Reds organization along with local community and political leaders about Realizing the Dream. The Reds are the first MLB team to join the project, a vision brought to life by King III, his wife and their daughter Yolanda Renee King.
“We are honored to be here with the Reds organization and in Cincinnati to help create the climate in our nation and world and ultimately realize the dream that my father envisioned — a nation where freedom, justice and equality is real for all humankind,” King III said.
This five-year service effort aims to rally youth, educators and communities to perform 100 million hours of service by the 100th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth in 2029. The collaborative effort, led by the Martin Luther King III Foundation and Legacy+ and with the support of the NFL and other partners, is committed to fostering a culture of service and making a tangible impact nationwide.
The initiative was launched weeks ago on MLK Day, on what would have been Dr. King’s 95th birthday. Martin, Arndrea and Yolanda took part in the coin toss prior to the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL playoff game, while the NFL and ESPN promoted the message throughout the telecast. The program will officially begin this fall during the upcoming school year.
“This is about inspiring new volunteerism but also capturing the work we’re already doing as a nation,” Reds President and COO Phil Castellini said. “Being able to look at each other and recognize that we are all alike, we are all doing good in our pocket of the world. So it’s about that unity of understanding that’s going to come from collaborating, collecting and measuring this volunteerism around the nation and inspiring more.”
The partnership between the Reds and the Realizing the Dream project was sparked during a conversation that Castellini had with Legacy+ co-founder Craig Kielburger. They both realized quickly that the Reds could be the first MLB team to sign on to the project.
“We are so grateful for the Reds to be the first MLB team to put up its hand,” Kielburger said. “You were the first of all MLB teams, and now you are the first to launch Realizing the Dream. And we know that the way the Reds go, the rest of the league goes.”
The Kings participated in a Q&A with the front office staff emceed by Reds Community Fund Executive Director Charley Frank before sitting down with Reds CEO Bob Castellini, Phil and some of the team’s minority owners.
Later that afternoon, the Kings were introduced to local media to make the partnership official during a press conference at the ballpark. Cincinnati mayor Aftab Pureval and Hamilton County Commissioners president Alicia Reece both participated in the press event and were joined by other city and county leaders
Realizing the Dream consists of three main components: service, events and inspiring content.
For service, the initiative has partnered with hundreds of nonprofits to establish over 50,000 service opportunities ranging from helping veterans and the homeless to focusing on mental health or assisting with more centralized causes in a particular neighborhood. In addition, over 200,000 teachers nationwide are getting involved to help bring Realizing the Dream into schools and directly to their students.
Over the next five years, there will be many larger events, including trips to key sites from civil rights history and culminating with a 100th birthday celebration in Washington, D.C. There will also be Cincinnati-specific events that will allow Reds fans and players to get involved.
During the lifespan of Realizing the Dream and beyond, promoting current and future efforts is just as important. Inspiring content will be distributed via all platforms with stories of heroes and trailblazers of the past, while also highlighting the transformative work being done today by leaders and everyday citizens.
“It is the easiest decision we will ever make to support something in the spirit of Dr. King that speaks of service, mental health and community building over a five-year period that is so beautifully conceived,” Frank said. “We’re honored to be a part of it.”
For more information on the Realizing the Dream project along with the Martin Luther King III Foundation and Legacy+, visit realizethedream.org.