Carlos Santana on Sunday used baseball’s annual Civil Rights Game as a platform to admonish Georgia and Arizona for their new immigration laws.
Santana received the Beacon of Change Award before the Braves-Phillies game.
The Grammy-winning musician said he was representing immigrants before adding: “The people of Arizona, and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday signed a bill that cracks down on illegal immigration in the state. The bill requires many employers to check the immigration status of new hires and authorizes law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of some suspects.
Georgia’s new law shares some similarities to one enacted last year in Arizona.
“This law is not correct. It’s a cruel law, actually,” Santana said in an impromptu news conference after the ceremony. “This is about fear. Stop shucking and jiving. People are afraid we’re going to steal your job. No we aren’t. You’re not going to change sheets and clean toilets.”
Added Santana: “This is the United States. This is the land of the free. If people want the immigration laws to keep passing, then everybody should get out and leave the American Indians here.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson presented the Beacon of Life Award to Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.
“I haven’t done anything to earn it, but I appreciate it,” Banks said.
Former Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe presented the Beacon of Hope Award to actor Morgan Freeman, who wore a Braves jacket and a Negro Leagues Atlanta Black Crackers cap.
Al Roker, co-host of NBC’s The Today Show, was the moderator for the ceremony and introduced a video tribute to Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who received a standing ovation from his hometown fans.
The Braves and Phillies wore throwback uniforms from the 1974 season, the year Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record.
Two leaders of the civil rights movement in Atlanta, former Mayor Andrew Young and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, went to the mound for the ceremonial first pitches, thrown to two African-American stars — Phillies slugger Ryan Howard and Atlanta’s Jason Heyward.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig attended the ceremony.
This is baseball’s fifth Civil Rights Game. The first event was in Memphis in 2007.
“Anytime you can honor the people that changed the game, it’s a good thing,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro.
The game also will return to Atlanta in 2012.
“I think it’s the perfect city to host this,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Source: The Associated Press.