An Atlanta activist is scrambling to raise thousands of dollars for a nonprofit serving underprivileged youths in order to make up for the shortfall created by Major League Baseball's decision to relocate its All-Star Game.
Men of Excellence is one of several nonprofits that raise money by staffing concession stands at Atlanta's Truist Park. Special events like the MLB All-Star Game are especially lucrative—the group expected to raise $50,000 from the festivities. The money would have provided rental assistance for single parents, sponsored mentorship programs for at-risk teens, and funded scholarships for metro Atlanta high schoolers, among other offerings.
The group lost that crucial funding, however, when the league opted to move the game in response to a progressive pressure campaign over a Georgia voting law—a decision President Joe Biden encouraged. Many Atlanta families "won't receive the Men of Excellence services on which they rely" as a result, the group said in a statement.
For Darryl Wilson, who is black, the league's "rash" judgment marked an unfortunate example of the "collateral damage of this partisan culture war currently gripping Georgia and our country." The retired Navy pilot decided to organize a "Stand Up for Atlanta" fundraiser in an attempt to recoup the nonprofit's losses.
"Lost in the frustration and anger from both sides of the aisle are the men and women who will lose out on one of the largest revenue-generating events they will see in their lifetime," Wilson said. "Let's stand up for Atlanta and make sure that even though the All-Star Game was taken away from the city, we look out for these organizations that are hurt the most by this decision."
MLB did not return a request for comment.
League commissioner Robert Manfred announced the All-Star Game relocation in an April press release, which called the state's election reform measures "restrictions to the ballot box." Less than two days before the announcement, Biden told ESPN's Sage Steele he would "strongly support" the move. Biden also claimed the voting law—which he called "Jim Crow on steroids"—would close polls early in the state. The law did not change voting hours.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki sought to clarify Biden's remark following pushback from Georgia's elected officials. She claimed Biden was merely "conveying that he would support that decision if that decision was made by Major League Baseball" and not "calling for companies to boycott." A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll found roughly 54 percent of registered Georgia voters opposed the decision to move the game. It will now be played in Denver, which is 76 percent white, whereas Atlanta's population is 51 percent black.
Men of Excellence associate manager Kendole Clark thanked Wilson for launching the fundraiser, which can be viewed here.
"We raise thousands of dollars to then put back into the lives of high schoolers in the Atlanta area," Clark said in a statement. "We are grateful for Darryl's willingness to try and raise some of the money back that will be lost with the All-Star Game being moved out of Georgia. Every dollar raised goes to helping change a young person's life."