June 19 (UPI) -- The statue of former Washington Redskins founding owner George Preston Marshall, who was forced to integrate his team in the early 1960s, was removed from its spot outside of RFK Stadium on Friday.
Events DC -- an organization in charge of RFK Stadium -- coordinated the removal of the statue.
Max Brown, the chairman of the Events DC board of directors, and Greg O'Dell, the president and CEO of the organization, released a joint statement explaining their decision to remove the statue. In the statement, Brown and O'Dell said it was an "overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice."
"This symbol of a person who didn't believe all men and women were created equal and who actually worked against integration is counter to all that we as people, a city, and nation represent," the statement said. "We believe that injustice and inequality of all forms is reprehensible and we are firmly committed to confronting unequal treatment and working together toward healing our city and country.
"Removing this statue is a small and an overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice. We recognize that we can do better and act now. We've heard from many of our stakeholders in the community, and we thank you. Allowing the memorial to remain on the RFK campus goes against Events DC's values of inclusion and equality and is a disturbing symbol to many in the city we serve."
Marshall owned the Redskins from its inception in 1932 until his death in 1969. The franchise began in Boston as the Braves in 1932 and was renamed the Redskins a year later. He moved the team to his hometown of Washington, D.C., in 1937.
As the civil rights movement grew, Marshall resisted pressure from then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and government leaders to integrate his roster, becoming the last league owner to do so in 1962.
Marshall relented after facing threats of the Redskins' 30-year lease at D.C. Stadium -- which was federally owned land -- being revoked unless he added an African American player. He drafted black running back and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in 1962.
The longtime Redskins owner immediately traded Davis to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Bobby Mitchell, who became the franchise's first African American player that year.
D.C. Stadium was later renamed RFK Stadium. The Redskins moved to its current home -- FedEx Field in Landover, Md. -- in 1997.
Marshall was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. He also is a member of the Redskins' Ring of Fame.