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Independence join forces with players to raise BLM awareness
Club promotes Hugh Roberts' T-shirt campaign
 
Published Wednesday, July 15, 2020 5:34 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY
Charlotte Independence defender Hugh Roberts (kneeling) is collaborating to raise awareness of Black Lives Matter initiatives, a program the club is supporting.

Hugh Roberts kept demanding change until the Charlotte Independence decided to act.


The club has done more in the last two weeks to address racial and social disparities than it has in its six seasons of existence, most recently promoting Roberts’ collaboration with The Queen’s English Soccer Show podcast to create a foundation promoting awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. Their first project is a T-shirt by OMJ Clothing, which serves as a fundraiser to help local organizations that empower communities of color; Roots in the Community Services, Creative Player Foundation and Block Love Charlotte.


The project emerged after The Queen’s English Soccer Show hosts Chris Deriex and Simon Gray joined Roberts on his podcast, BackyardFooty, in May, in which racism was discussed. Deriex reached out to Roberts afterward, sharing his growing distress as he researched the racial divide in America.


“He educated himself on these issues, and was distraught about them,” Roberts said. “He knew the apparel company we partnered with. He asked me what I thought about creating a shirt, and I told him I’ve been trying to do this with the Independence, and they’ve been going around me.”


Roberts’ teammate Brandon Miller introduced him to Heal Charlotte, a community empowerment and youth advocacy non-profit organization. Each game will be played for the organizations benefiting from the foundation as well as Heal Charlotte. Roberts will donate $10 for every goal he scores and $15 for each clean sheet.


Independence players had expressed their displeasure with the lack of response from the club since June 1 when the front office declined to make an anti-racist statement. Then majority owner Dan DiMicco’s anti-Black Lives Matter tweets caught the attention of season ticket holders, who subsequently said they would drop their financial support from the organization. The club’s youth system created an Independence Anti-Racism Task Force earlier this month and met with first team players on July 10. They have also committed to community work, such as food drives, going forward.

“These opportunities have been there,” Roberts said. “I asked why we haven’t been doing this all along. They kept saying, ‘We can. We can.’ I said ‘we have to.’”
For more information about the shirts: https://www.olemasonjar.com/products/blm-collaboration-black-tee

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