Former United States President Barack Obama praised Major League Baseball for its decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta in light of recent voter-restriction laws put in place by the state of Georgia.
After MLB announced the move, Obama tweeted there is "no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron."
Aaron is an iconic figure in Braves history, dating back to his first 12 seasons from 1954 to '65 when the franchise was in Milwaukee and its first nine seasons in Atlanta from 1966 to '74 after relocating.
After Aaron's death on Jan. 22 at the age of 86, Ernie Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about the Baseball Hall of Famer's work in the civil rights movement throughout his life:
"After his promotion to the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, just a year before the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Aaron began to take notice of the civil rights movement and Democratic causes. In 1960, while his boyhood idol Robinson supported Richard Nixon, Aaron traveled throughout Wisconsin campaigning for John F. Kennedy."
"Long-time Atlanta friend Xernona Clayton said while Aaron may not have been as visible as others, 'He was someone we knew we could count for contributions or if we needed him to make a statement or an appearance somewhere where it was important to show solidarity.”
"After he retired Aaron devoted his attention to business and charity, setting up programs and scholarships for Black students. In 1999, he became the first Black majority owner of a BMW franchise, and he lobbied for efforts encouraging more young Black athletes to play baseball."
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement Friday about the decision to take this year's All-Star festivities out of Atlanta:
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a controversial elections law bill on March 26 that severely restricts voting rights.
ESPN's Mina Kimes shared a screenshot from a New York Times article written by Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein about the most significant changes to voting in the state of Georgia under the new bill:
Atlanta's Truist Park was awarded the All-Star Game in May 2019. The 41,000-seat stadium has been home of the Braves since 2017.
This was going to be the first time Atlanta hosted the Midsummer Classic since 2000.
MLB has yet to name a replacement site for this year's event. The 2021 All-Star Game is scheduled to be played on July 13.