PBR - The Phillies will play the Braves in the fifth annual Civil Rights game in Atlanta on May 15, MLB announced Thursday.
The game will cap off four days of festivities dedicated to honoring civil rights in baseball.
The Phillies were an ideal pick for MLB as the club has two African American stars in Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, and two popular Hispanic American players in Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz.
"We think [the Phillies are] very representative of what we're trying to do," MLB vice president of baseball development Jimmy Solomon said. "I think it kind of speaks to the kind of team, the kind of diversity, the kind of cultural inclusion that we're talking about in baseball. I think that would be an appropriate opponent for the Braves in this setting."
MLB announced last summer that the 2011 and 2012 Civil Rights ceremonies would be hosted in Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and the center of Hall of famer Hank Aaron’s career.
"When you look at it, this is where the game ought to be," Aaron said. "I'm not trying to take anything away from
anybody else. But when you talk about Dr. King…you talk about all the civil rights beacons who are here, and this is certainly where the game should be."
Events scheduled for the occasion include a screening of the documentary “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream” and the presentation of the Beacon Awards that are presented to a beacon of life, change, and hope. Past recipients of the
award include Willy Mays, Muhammad Ali, and Bill Cosby.
Phillies and Braves players will wear throwback uniforms in reference to the Negro League years and the game will be broadcasted on national television for the first time in the event’s five-year history.
The Civil Rights game is a special honor for Howard, who has voiced his opinion of the importance of civil rights and whose parents marched with King during the Civil Rights movement.
"I think it's great for Major League Baseball to recognize this, and to allow us to play in this game," Howard said. "It's definitely an honor. I'm glad they're broadcasting this to America. I think it shows everybody just how far we've come as a country with the civil rights moment. They paved the way. And not just for African-Americans, but for an entire nation."