ATLANTA -- The honoring of two civil rights leaders will highlight the inaugural Atlanta Braves Heritage Weekend, which begins on Friday and continues with a series of exhibits and attractions throughout the series against the Nationals.
Former Georgia Congressman and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and former state senator Leroy Johnson will be honored as the first recipients of the Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Award during a panel discussion on Friday morning at Turner Field. Panelists for the discussion include former Tuskegee Airman Val Archer, former NBA player Bernard King, former Brave Brian Jordan and Tommie Smith, the 1968 Olympic gold medalist in the 200-meter track-and-field event. The discussion will be moderated by Doug Shipman, CEO for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
The Braves organized the weekend in conjunction with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to pay tribute to Atlanta's strong connection with the Civil Rights Movement throughout the city's history. Atlanta hosted Major League Baseball's Civil Rights Game in 2011 and 2012.
Fans will be able to explore exhibits showcasing the history of the Negro Leagues and the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military airmen. The "Rise Above" Exhibit will be held at Monument Grove outside Turner Field on each gameday from 11 a.m. ET until the sixth inning, and the Negro League Exhibit will take place in the Hank Aaron Room inside the ballpark from the time the gates are open until the end of the game.
Before the Friday and Saturday games, there will be a flyover by one of the P-51 planes used by the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. On Saturday morning the Braves will hold a youth baseball clinic run by Braves alumni and Chance Bream, from the East Cobb Baseball Academy. Saturday night's game will honor the Negro League with a pregame tribute featuring a number of former players, and both teams will wear Negro League uniforms: The Braves will wear the uniforms of Atlanta Black Crackers, and the Nationals will don those of the Homestead (D.C.) Grays.
In addition, hip-hop group Run DMC will perform following Saturday's game.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.