PANEL DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUTH OFFER MEANINGFUL CAP TO THE ALLIANCE UNITY MARCH
The 11 teams that have collaborated to form The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles held a Unity March & Dialogue that included youth, community members, organizations from across the region and LAPD officers. On a bright Sunday morning, participants started their trek together at the Exposition Park Rose Garden and the march ended with lunch and revealing conversations about racism and moving forward together at Banc of California Stadium.
The march was organized in partnership with the Brotherhood Crusade, a youth and community development organization that has worked with residents of South LA for 50 years.
Prior to the march, participants made signs, posed for photos and listened to youth leaders as well as Luke Emerson from Councilmember Mark Ridley Thomas’ office. A DJ also provided a festive staging point. Community groups such as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition attended to show their support, along with many team employees.
Following the march – where over 225 youth, adults and officers walked together peacefully in a demonstration of a unified community determined to end racism – the participants ate lunch together on an upper level of the stadium, and first, listened to brief remarks from several executives from The Alliance teams, who addressed the youth directly.
The team executives included Benny Tran, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Operations of LAFC, who hosted the dialogue following the march at Banc of California Stadium.
“Today is a historic moment for all of us,” Tran said. “We knew joining with all of the other pro teams in The Alliance would be a powerful force to help induce positive change in communities of color in this city.”
Kelly Cheeseman, Chief Operating Officer at AEG Sports, also spoke.
“Our teams from AEG Sports were proud to join The Alliance,” said Cheeseman, on behalf of the LA Kings and LA Galaxy. “We’re extremely proud of the unique programs The Alliance provides in South Los Angeles. We’re making a collective impact that will affect many to come.
“Small acts like all of us getting together today helps transformative change move on far faster timelines. We’re all dedicated to not only addressing racism, but increasing access to youth sports for long-term well-being.”
The Alliance is committed to funding new youth sports programs in communities of color and supporting greater access, has launched a Youth Empowerment Program in two local high schools, and is also providing exposure to careers in the sports industry, beyond being a pro athlete.
“All 11 teams got together…and we all said we have a much bigger calling,” said Lon Rosen, Executive Vice President of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who encouraged the youth to consider working in sports in the future. “We said we need to get our collective power together and see how we can make a change in the world.
“That’s what The Alliance is about. We fight on the court, we fight on the field, we fight for fans. But what we are really here to do is get together to make changes. It’s on all of us to get this done.”
The Unity March & Dialogue also marked the first year of the 11 teams in greater Los Angeles coming together as The Alliance and joining in partnership with the Play Equity Fund.
“It’s amazing to see the collective power in this room,” said Anaheim Ducks President of Business Operations Aaron Teats. “It’s incumbent upon us as leaders to make sure we’re using our platform in professional sports for positive change. Looking at this room, at all the faces here, we can have an amazing impact.”
Said A.G. Spanos, Los Angeles Chargers President of Business Operations: “Eleven teams, many of them bitter rivals, have put aside their differences and come together around one cause.”
Renata Simril, President of the Play Equity Fund, and Charisse Bremond of Brotherhood Crusade also spoke to the youth and community members who had gathered for deeper discussions following the Unity March.
A series of meaningful dialogues with the youth from the Brotherhood Crusade continued, joining LAPD officers and team personnel. These conversations included breakout sessions focused on the young people’s experience with racism, their interactions with police and how to move forward in a positive, constructive way based on their shared experiences.
LA Kings Growth and Inclusion Specialist and Pro Scout Blake Bolden joined in a panel discussion on racism, the best methods to support young leaders, and how racism is experienced by athletes. Two students shared their encounters with police and how leadership exercises found in programs such as The Alliance’s Student Empowerment Program and the Brotherhood Crusade have helped nurture their resilience.
“Creating spaces where youth and law enforcement can peacefully share their voices is priceless,” said Mykol Lews, Sr. Program Manager for the Brotherhood Crusade. “One common theme from the young men and law enforcement was that we need to continue to have these safe space conversations with youth, law enforcement and others.”
Otha Cole, event host and project director for the Play Equity Fund, thought the event was a great success and looks forward to more in the future.
“The Alliance, and this unity event demonstrates how unlikely partners can come together for a greater cause,” he said. “The multi-year partnership from this collaboration of rivals and the courage shown here today from the youth is truly inspirational.”