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Black Lives Matter: F1 champion Lewis Hamilton attends peaceful protest at Hyde Park and urges people to 'keep pushing' for change

·3-min read
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP poses for a photo in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 12, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton has attended a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in London's Hyde Park and urged everyone supporting the movement to "keep pushing".

Hamilton, 35, also highlighted the diversity of the crowd at the Sunday rally and said he believes "positive change will come".

Formula 1's six-time champion and only black driver has been campaigning passionately against racial injustice with a series of powerful statements on social media during the past month.

"Went down to Hyde Park today for the peaceful protest and I was so proud to see in person so many people of all races and backgrounds supporting this movement," he wrote after attending the protest.

"I was proud to be out there acknowledging and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and my black heritage. I was so happy to see people of all ages, sporting Black Lives Matter signs and saying it just as passionately as I was.

"I was also happy to see so many white supporters out there today in the name of equality for all. It was really moving. I'm feeling extremely positive that change will come, but we cannot stop now. Keep pushing."

The move follows previous posts on social media in which he criticised others for remaining silent.

"Your silence is still deafening," wrote Hamilton, who in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US last month, called on the F1 community to speak out. His message prompted several drivers and the sport itself to issue anti-racism messages.

"You may not be racist in your silence but we need you to be ANTI-racist.

"That means we need you to educate yourself and others.

"Speak out to help us bring awareness to the injustices and prejudices that black people and people of colour face on a daily basis, and have been facing for hundreds of years.

"We cannot be silent today! We need your voice. We need you to get out of your comfort zone and support us by being anti-racist and letting people know where you stand in this fight.

"Encourage your family, friends and colleagues so we can continue to make change!"

Hamilton's appearance at the protest comes after he launched a research project called The Hamilton Commission aimed at improving diversity in the motorsport industry - with F1's world champion saying that "the time for platitudes and token gestures is over".

"Despite my success in the sport, the institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist," wrote Hamilton in a Sunday Times column.

"It is not enough to point to me, or to a single new black hire, as a meaningful example of progress. Thousands of people are employed across this industry and that group needs to be more representative of society.

"When I look back in 20 years, I want to see the sport that gave a shy, working-class black kid from Stevenage so much opportunity, become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in."

Hamilton has been backed by Mercedes and his sport for speaking out in recent weeks, and F1 will allow drivers to show their support for the BLM movement once the 2020 season starts on 5 July in Austria.

F1 and the FIA are also working on their own plans.

F1's managing director Ross Brawn told Sky Sports earlier this month: "Lewis is a great ambassador for the sport and his comments are very valid. We support him completely."

He said F1 was aware it needed to improve diversity across the sport and said creating greater opportunities at grassroots level - for young drivers, engineers and other potential roles - was at the heart of the required change.

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