Rock icon Carlos Santana used the awards ceremony of MLB’s annual Civil Rights Game to make comments about Atlanta and Arizona’s recent immigration laws, and drew boos from the fans in attendance the next day when introduced before the game. I applaud Carlos Santana for taking a stand for “the invisible.”
In accepting the Beacon of Change award from Harry Belafonte, Santana spoke about how “universal tone” connects everyone through music, and named many songs from the rock and jazz canon that express these ideas. Some of the songs were “One Love” by Bob Marley; “War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate’… “Mr. President are you listening?” Santana added to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” lyrics. He also mentioned Mahalia Jackson, “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, “Imagine” by John Lennon and “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles. At the end he admonished MLB for playing Kenny G when it should have been “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane!
But his real message was about immigrants and the implied racism of recent laws. “I would invite all Latin people to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy,” Santana said. “Who cleans the sheets? Who cleans the toilets? Who babysits? I am here to give voice to the invisible. By god’s grace, I represent the invisible ones. It’s a shame that those in charge would pass a law like those in Arizona. The sound that comes to my heart and my fingers is that we are in this together, that we don’t leave anyone out.”
It’s pretty hard to outshine Hank Aaron, Morgan Freeman, Don Newcombe and hometown hip hop superstar Ludacris, but Carlos Santana brought up a contemporary topic for baseball and America to address. I happened to catch Morgan Freeman’s painful (“Who was your favorite leading lady?”) on air interview but was happy he got to speak about the great film Invictus and his admiration for Nelson Mandela.