Major Soccer League Boosts Juneteenth Commitment with ‘The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share’ Initiative

(Photo Credit: Charcoal Pitch F.C founder, Mel D. Cole)

Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced the launch of “The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share,” the 2023 edition of its annual Juneteenth initiative. Inspired by the art of Black artist Gianni Lee, this initiative is a collaborative effort between the League, clubs, and Black Players for Change (BPC) – an independent organization comprising Black MLS players, coaches, and staff working towards racial equality in soccer and society. It serves as a continuation of MLS’ commitment to recognizing the significant contributions of Black Americans.

Detroit City F.C. is a part of the MLS.

To commemorate this important milestone in U.S. history, MLS and BPC joined forces with renowned photographer and Charcoal Pitch F.C founder, Mel D. Cole, who was appointed as the creative lead for the Juneteenth campaign. Cole enlisted the talents of Black artist Gianni Lee to design the 2023 MLS Juneteenth-inspired collectible jerseys named “The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share.”

These unique jerseys, totaling 29 in number, will be autographed by players and auctioned off, with the funds raised benefiting organizations that have a positive impact on the Black community in each MLS club’s local market. As an added feature, a commemorative patch was created to complement the 29 individual jerseys, representing each MLS club. Fans can participate in the auction through

Furthermore, fans will have the opportunity to purchase patches and numbers on the Black Players For Change website. This extends the commemorative offerings associated with the Juneteenth campaign.

Tunde Oguntimein, Vice President of the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Soccer, emphasized the importance of recognizing Juneteenth as a pivotal moment in American history. He expressed pride in MLS partnering once again with Black Players For Change, as well as collaborating with Mel D. Cole and Gianni Lee, to create an initiative that beautifully captures the cultural significance of Juneteenth.

Earl Edwards Jr., President of Black Players For Change, highlighted the significance of Juneteenth as a holiday that encourages reflection on the progress made in history. He expressed satisfaction with the collaborative work done with MLS to effect change within the league and local communities. Edwards looked forward to fans witnessing the final jersey designed through the collaboration with Mel D. Cole and Gianni Lee.

Mel D. Cole, speaking on behalf of his agency, Charcoal Pitch F.C, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership with MLS for the 2023 Juneteenth campaign. He emphasized the alignment between the values of Juneteenth and his agency, stressing that freedom is essential for personal and creative expression. Cole’s agency ensured that Black individuals were genuinely represented throughout the campaign, from the involvement of the talented artist Gianni Lee to the hiring of personnel who not only excelled in their respective roles but also understood the significance of Juneteenth.

Gianni Lee, the artist behind the jersey design, described storytelling as a powerful form of communication. He intended to convey the concept through a soccer jersey, incorporating his “blue hand” motif. The design aimed to narrate the tale of African cultural unity in the diaspora and illustrate its continued growth within American society, akin to a flourishing plant.

In observance of Juneteenth, select MLS matches featured “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as The Black National Anthem. That started on Wednesday, June 14, and throughout the weekend’s games on June 17.

The 2023 Juneteenth initiatives build upon MLS’ ongoing efforts to drive positive social change and promote racial reconciliation. In November 2021, MLS introduced updates and enhancements to its Diversity Hiring Policy, collaborating with a working group comprising club personnel, league executives, Black Players for Change, and current and former MLS players. These changes were implemented to increase the policy’s effectiveness, with a particular focus on hiring Black candidates and strengthening enforcement mechanisms. Additionally, in March 2022, MLS participated in a historic $25 million loan facilitated by the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation, making it the first sports league to engage in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black banks.

Through past Juneteenth celebrations, Major League Soccer has raised over $300,000 for local Black impact organizations in MLS cities. The proceeds from this year’s Juneteenth initiatives will support organizations dedicated to uplifting and empowering Black communities in MLS markets.

For further details regarding the auction, including information on placing bids for the collectible jerseys, please visit

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