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Dane Kelly makes BLM statement with goal in Independence draw
Striker's public gesture a sign of support
 
Published Monday, August 10, 2020 2:29 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

FILE PHOTO
Charlotte Independence striker Dane Kelly made a show of support to the Black Lives Matter movement after scoring against Charleston Saturday.

MATTHEWS—The USL Championship’s all-time leading goal scorer made a powerful statement in support of Black Lives Matter.

When striker Dane Kelly scored the first goal at the Sportsplex at Matthews in 294 days to put the Charlotte Independence up 1-0 against the Charleston Battery, he did more than score his first home goal for the Jacks. He took a knee, and raised his fist to the sky. Kelly’s teammates engulfed him, not just in celebration, but in continued support of using their platforms as professional athletes to make a statement that Black Lives Matter to this team. The match ended 1-all, putting Charlotte in third with five points in Group G.

“It was definitely something I told myself I’m going to do every time I score to represent Black Lives Matter and our Black community,” Kelly said. “We as professionals have to take a stand, and if others see us taking a stand, that shows a lot, and that’s a big statement.  I feel really good about myself doing that.”

Said defender Hugh Roberts: “I commend him, and I even show him a lot of respect for just doing that because a lot of people still don’t even send a message. [His celebration] was very powerful.”

Charlotte players have been taking a stand before social unrest spread across the country when George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May. Roberts and goalkeeper Brandon Miller spoke out against the lack of action from the club’s front office in the immediate weeks following Floyd’s death, and the anti-Black Lives Matter tweets that have come from Independence majority owner Dan DiMicco. They have also become advocates in the community, partnering with groups like Heal Charlotte for socioeconomic change.

Roberts also partnered with local podcast The Queen’s English Soccer Show to create a foundation that promotes awareness for BLM. They created a Black Lives Matter T-shirt by OMJ Clothing, which serves as a fundraising catalyst to help local organizations that empower communities of color; Roots in the Community Services, Creative Player Foundation and Block Love Charlotte. Roberts wrote his first check from the project on Aug. 10 – $800 for Block Love Charlotte. He intends to do more.

“I’m going to go out, not just to donate, but help give out food to the homeless, and stick around, make sure people know my face and my name, and that this is more than just a check donation,” Roberts said.

Said coach Mike Jeffries: “It’s a clear message and a strong message from Dane. Players have been very supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, and they do it in different ways. We have some who are little bit more at the forefront, and that’s fantastic. We have other guys who show their support in their own ways. That was just a positive message from Dane.”

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