Husker athletes rally to talk race and equality

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 9:48 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Right now, there’s not a single Husker athlete that knows when their season will start or if it’ll happen. It’s not stopping many of them from trying to make a difference, calling for change and awareness on Nebraska’s campus and beyond.

Hundreds of Huskers gathered outside of Memorial Stadium Tuesday night to talk about changes they hope to make in and outside of their sports.

“The Minority Student Athlete Collective was founded to champion the experience and influence the change of the minority student experience,” said DaWon Baker the Diversity and Inclusion Director at UNL.

The event hosted half a dozen speakers from all different sports and coaching staff who shared personal stories of their experiences with race in America.

“I stand before you today not as an athlete nor as a student but a person, a black person who lives in America,” said Samuel Phillips of the men’s gymnastics team. “An America that since the age of one I’ve seen my race tortured, beat down, made fun of, taken advantage of and illustrated as bad or less than.”

Many pointing to athletics as a place where they learned about different backgrounds and cultures.

“I never understood white privilege growing up in Ashland, Nebraska where the African American population makes up less than one percent of the community,” said Ben Stille a Husker football player. “I wouldn’t understand white privilege like I do now if it wasn’t for all the diversity that a college locker room is.”

“With teammates from all different backgrounds, races, lifestyles, and cultures we fought together side by side towards common goals,” said Amy Willaims the head women’s basketball coach. “I gained something that had been missing in my life when it came to race, I gained perspective.”

The Minority Student Athlete Collective who put on the event has already been I discussions with the University about proposed changes to the way the athletic department works.

“This is not a rally for local change but something much bigger,” said Sadio Fenner of the men’s cross country team. “We live in a global society and our students and staff represent that global society. Thus making this a global issue that deserves attention even if it’s not perceived to be pertinent on most days on UNL’s campus or in Lincoln.”

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