Best Friends from Viral Hugging Video Featured in Fashion Campaign to Benefit Charity
Friends Maxwell Hanson and Finnegan McKenna went viral when footage of them running toward each other was posted on social media in September
Two best friends who captured the hearts of millions after they went viral last year are now featured in a clothing campaign to help raise funds for charity.
Friends Maxwell Hanson and Finnegan McKenna became social media stars in September after footage of them running toward each other for a hug was viewed by millions. The video was made even more exceptional when taking into account America's current strife with race relations and equality, as highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Maxwell, who is Black, and Finnegan, who is White, are now in a campaign by athleisure brand BOY MEETS GIRL to promote antiracism.
The boys are shown on a collection of shirts and sweaters from the brand that features images of their viral hug. Proceeds from sales of the items will benefit the From Privilege to Progress's National Movement — a foundation focused on "the desegregating the conversation about race and racism" started by two women who filmed Black men being unjustly arrested at a Starbucks in 2018.
"These items were created to help work toward the brighter future, that the video inspired, where racial justice is a realized goal," a statement sent to PEOPLE by BOY MEETS GIRL reads. "Too many people have suffered the terrible consequences of living in a racist society. The time is now to shoulder the responsibility and to join the fight for racial justice.
Erica McKenna, Finnegan’s Mother, said the initiative with the clothing company "reminds us all that we must continue to fight for social justice in every area of our lives."
"Every time we speak up, there is a chance to make a difference. We hope that this shirt encourages unity among people of all races, and for those of us who are privileged, it should also serve as a call and reminder to speak up against racism, in all of its forms," she said in the statement.
"From Privilege to Progress has helped to show me what it looks like to #ShowUp for the Black community, and with our support from this project, we hope that they will be able to reach even more people with their anti-racist education and guidance," she added.
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The partnership comes after President Donald Trump tweeted a version of the boys' video that was edited to make it seem Finnegan was running away from Maxwell. The words, "Terrified [toddler] runs from racist baby," was displayed below in Trump's video, which has since been removed by Twitter.
“As the father of a black son, I am beginning to know the fear that parents of black children have," Michael Cisneros, Maxwell’s dad, said in the statement. "Maxwell is young now, but to think about him and other black children not returning home because the color of their skin is indescribable."
"We were fortunate enough to have a video that gave us a platform to use for change that is desperately needed," he added. "We collaborated with BOY MEETS GIRL to create these t-shirts to help stand up to racism. We will do all we can to make a safer future for our child, and yours."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.