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Russell Wilson, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird Call for Racial Justice in Video at ESPY Awards

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ESPN held its annual ESPY Awards on Sunday, this time with no red carpet crowds or in-person award presentations. Instead, this year's ceremony opened with a video featuring Russell Wilson, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird that called for unity against racial injustice.

The trio started the show from their own homes and delivered a powerful message by addressing the critical social issues the country is facing in light of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

After highlighting the achievements of iconic Black athletes who fought for social change—Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell and Serena Williams—Wilson addresses the issue of police brutality, and his hope for a better future for his children.

“Our country’s work is not anywhere close to done. We need justice. We need true leadership. We need a change. And we need it now," Wilson said. "I look at my children, and I pray for a better future. A world where the color of their brown skin doesn’t sop them from their calling, from their purpose, from their destiny. I pray for a world where I don’t have to fear for my children due to systemic racism from hundreds of years of oppression. The only thing that must die is racism. Black lives matter.”

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Rapinoe urged the importance of maintaining the momentum behind these issues, and emphasized how crucial the support of non-Black allies is to creating real change.

“It’s important that we keep this dialogue going and this energy alive, because for centuries, there have been fights for justice and equality in this country, led by Black people," Rapinoe said. "This movement is no different, but as white people, this is the breaking point. This time, we’ve got to have their backs.”

Bird discussed how she used to shy away from discussing these types of issues, and how sports fans must stand with the athletes they cheer for when it comes to these important issues.

“Trust us, we know that sports are important. It’s why we’re gathered here tonight," Bird said. "But do Black lives matter to you when they’re not throwing touchdowns, grabbing rebounds, serving aces? If that was uncomfortable to hear, good. I used to shy away from moments like this, because it’s convenient to be quiet, to be thought of as safe and polite.”