Cricketers Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent have received the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of their powerful advocacy against racism in cricket and their outstanding sporting achievements.
Holding, a revered fast bowler for the West Indies team, nicknamed ‘Whispering Death’ for his quiet approach to the bowling crease, and Rainford-Brent, the first black woman to play for England and now, Director of Surrey Women’s Cricket, was awarded the Freedom during a private virtual ceremony.
Holding and Rainford-Brent, now both respected radio and TV commentators for the sport, explained during their commentary of this year’s summer tests how racism has affected their lives.
Holding spoke emotionally during a live Sky Sports interview about the racism faced by his parents in the UK; and in a joint interview with Holding, Rainford-Brent described how she had been “drip fed” racist comments about her ethnicity, forcing her to question whether or not to remain in cricket.
Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell, said: “It is entirely right to call out prejudice in all its forms, wherever and whenever it is experienced, and Ebony and Michael have taken a courageous stand in speaking out against racism in this country and even, within their sport, in which they have both excelled.
“The granting of the Freedom of the City of London, which it is my privilege to support wholeheartedly, recognises how they have added their voices to the growing global movement to stamp out racism, and is given with our sincere gratitude.”