Friday’s MLB Network broadcast will feature a Crosstown Classic of sorts, just not one Cubs and White Sox fans have viewed before.
As part of a league-wide commemoration of Juneteenth – or Emancipation Day – Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams are scheduled to appear on MLB Tonight: A Conversation.
The 90-minute special, scheduled to air at 4:30 p.m. CT and be simulcast on mlb.com, will address racial injustice and inequality, both in baseball and broader society. Epstein and Williams have been vocal on those subjects in recent weeks. In a 34-minute video the White Sox posted on Monday, Williams shared personal stories about his own experiences with racism. Epstein said earlier this month that he was looking inward to try to effect change. They are scheduled to appear for a joint conversation Friday.
The Cubs and White Sox also joined MLB clubs across the country in brining attention Juneteenth on social media.
“We embrace this day of emancipation as an opportunity to learn, grow and confront how freedom and justice in the U.S. has always been delayed for African Americans,” the Cubs posted to Twitter.
The White Sox posted a portrait by Chicago artist Edo. The face of the multi-colored man included messaged like, “HEAL SOCIETY,” and “UNITED.” In another post, the team urged its fans to “take this day to listen and learn from those around you.”
Juneteenth commemorates the day Union soldiers marched into Galveston, Texas and announced to slaves that they were free. It was June 19, 1865, two years aver President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Historian Dr. Daina Ramey Berry told The Daily, a New York Times podcast, that the resurgence of national attention to Juneteenth this year is part of cycle that’s been churning for centuries.
“We saw this the very first year Juneteenth was celebrated in the 1860s against the backdrop of both joy and pain, of slavery and freedom,” she said on The Daily. “We saw this in the 1960s. We saw this again in the 1990s, and we’re seeing this again today.”