'End Racism' stencil part of NFL social justice plan

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Jason ReidSenior Writer, The Undefeated

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Former columnist and Redskins beat writer for Washington Post Covered multiple beats over 15 years at Los Angeles Times University of Southern California graduate

As part of the NFL's ongoing commitment to social justice programs, the messages "It Takes All of Us" and "End Racism" will be stenciled on all end zone borders for home openers, the league office informed clubs on Monday in a memo obtained by ESPN.

The two messages of inclusion, which will be stenciled on opposite end zones during kickoff week, are key elements of the league's broader, multifaceted rollout intended to highlight efforts to support diversity and inclusion when the new season begins.

The end zone messages demonstrate "how football and the NFL brings people together to work as one and use our example and our actions to help conquer racism," the memo said.

As previously reported, a recorded performance of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," traditionally known as the Black national anthem, will be featured in pregame ceremonies. On stadium video screens, montages of the social justice work of NFL players and clubs will accompany the song. What's more, according to the memo, the NFL has "engaged the James Weldon Johnson Foundation (the song's author) and the NAACP to work with us to inform and educate fans about the historical significance of the song during the weeks leading up to kickoff, and will utilize the NFL's owned and operated channels to share as broadly as possible."

The memo also confirms that players will have the option to wear helmet decals honoring victims of systemic racism.

"Each player will have the option to honor an individual by displaying that person's name via a decal on the back of their helmet," the memo said. "Players will be offered a list of names and short biographical information to help guide their decision-making, however, they can also select a victim of systemic racism who is not represented on this list."

If coaches desire, they can honor victims of systemic racism by wearing patches on their hats.

Additionally, the league will recognize essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Featured on each club's seat covering between the 30-yard lines, there will be messaging thanking these frontline workers," the memo said.

The league worked with players and the NFL Players Association to develop its Week 1 plan. Owners on the league's social justice working committee -- Gayle Benson, New Orleans Saints; Michael Bidwill, Arizona Cardinals; Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons; Dee Haslam, Cleveland Browns; Shad Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars -- and Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II, chair of the NFL's workplace diversity committee, were also consulted.

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