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Memorials to the racist former owners of the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Twins are removed

Memorials to the racist former owners of the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Twins are removed

(CNN)A monument to the former owner of the Washington Redskins and a statue of the former owner of the Minnesota Twins were removed Friday because of the men’s racist pasts, the Washington sports authority and the Twins organization said.

The Minnesota Twins removed a statue honoring Calvin Griffith from outside the team’s ballpark. In Washington, DC, the city’s convention and sports authority, Events DC, removed a monument to Redskins franchise founder George Preston Marshall from outside Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. The Redskins played at RFK Stadium before moving to FedEx Field in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
“This symbol of a person who didn’t believe all men and women were created equal and who actually worked against integration is counter to all that we as people, a city, and nation represent,” Events DC Chairman Max Brown, President and CEO Greg O’Dell and their Board of Directors said in a statement. “Removing this statue is a small and an overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice.”
CNN has reached out to the Washington Redskins and the NFL for comment on Marshall’s monument being removed. The team and the league have been criticized for years by Native American groups and others for continuing to have “Redskins” in the name.
Before Events DC removed the monument, someone had spray painted it with the words “change the name,” a reference to the movement urging the Redskins to change their name.
In announcing the removal of the Griffith statue, the Minnesota Twins apologized for memorializing their former owner with a statue in the first place when they opened Target Field in 2010.
“His disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value,” the Twins said in a statement. “Our decision to memorialize Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance on our part of systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today.”
The moves come as statues, monuments and memorials to Confederates, racists and other controversial figures across the US have been taken down by officials, or at the hands of protesters.
Marshall died in 1969 and Griffith died in 1999.

The former owners’ racism is documented

The Redskins were the last team to integrate in the NFL, signing their first Black player—Bobby Mitchell—in 1962.
US Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, speaking during Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing as attorney general in 2017, recalled how his father, then Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, helped force the Redskins to integrate in the 1960s.
“Everyone knew [Preston Marshall] was a bigot and racist,” according to a transcript of the hearing. “He said: This is never going to happen. We are not going to integrate the Redskins.”
Udall said his father told the NFL owner that because the stadium was on US Park Service property, they would refuse to renew the stadium’s lease unless the team integrated.
Griffith bought the Washington Senators in 1961, moved the franchise to Minneapolis and renamed it the Twins.
He admitted in a speech to the Lions Club in Waseca, Minnesota, on September 28, 1978, that he moved the team for purely racist reasons, according to Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s reporter Nick Coleman.
After making sure there were no Blacks in the Lions Club audience, Griffith explained his rationale, Coleman wrote.
“It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here.” Coleman quotes Griffith as saying. “We came here because you’ve got good, hard-working, White people here.”
Correction: This story and its headline have been updated with the correct name of the Minnesota Twins.

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