Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford explains why he took a knee: 'I have to be a voice'

Chris Cwik
·3 min read

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford wants to be a voice for those who don’t have his platform. Alford was one of the four Blue Jays players who took a knee during the national anthem Friday. On Saturday, Alford explained that decision, saying he will fight for those who are oppressed by systemic racism.

Alford, 26, said he took a knee to represent the people who feel helpless and hopeless.

Alford’s full statement read:

“I have the luxury of having on a uniform. That kind of provides me with a shield. When I go a lot of places, people know who I am, especially back at home.

“But I feel like I have to be a voice for the people who come from the same places I come from. People who come from poverty-stricken situations who don’t really have their voice and need someone to speak for them, and stand up for them and, in this case, kneel for them.

“I grew up in poverty, so I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to feel helpless. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless. I know what it’s like not to get many opportunities. You always feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.

“I’m going to keep fighting this fight with the people who have been oppressed for so many years, including myself, from systematic racism.”

Anthony Alford, three other Blue Jays took a knee during national anthem

During Friday’s game, Alford, Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took a knee during the U.S. national anthem to protest racial injustice. The 25-year-old Biggio spoke about that decision following Friday’s 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Biggio said he didn’t intend to kneel when he arrived at the ballpark, but spoke to Alford, who said he would feel more comfortable kneeling if Biggio also took a knee.

Guerrero said he made the decision to kneel after speaking with his family and Alford. Guerrero said he was “very hurt inside about what’s happening right now.”

Blue Jays wore Black Lives Matter shirts before first game

Prior to Friday’s game, a number of Blue Jays took the field wearing Black Lives Matter shirts. Alford was asked about the players who didn’t wear the shirts, saying he was disappointed, but respected his teammates’ decisions. Alford said the fact that not every player wore the shirt proves “we still have a long way to go.”

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Cavan Biggio and Rowdy Tellez stand while Santiago Espinal and Anthony Alford kneel on the field during the U.S. national anthem.
Toronto Blue Jays players, from left, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Santiago Espinal, Cavan Biggio, Anthony Alford and Rowdy Tellez during the playing of the U.S. national anthem on Friday. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

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