As the afternoon turned to evening in Tigertown, Clemson football players’ planned, organized peaceful March began and ended with history being made as close to 3,000 attended.
It was a peaceful demonstration and march against systemic racism. It began with remarks by the four players that organized it and a video was shown. They then followed with over eight minutes of silence done in homage to George Floyd, the man killed by Minneapolis, Minnesota police a few weeks ago.
Those in attendance got to hear from different players that helped organize and lead the march along with head coach Dabo Swinney, who also participated in the march.
Mike Jones Jr, one of the players that had a huge part in organizing the event, offered significant insight into his thought process and what has led to these protest.
“How can we change if somebody doesn’t know how that made you feel, making them feel you? That’s the reason we’re going to change things. So many people are voicing how they feel and it was something people never cared to know – or maybe just didn’t know.”
Darien Rencher, Clemson RB, was very outspoken as he took the time to speak to the crowd.
“I believe that God did this (the peaceful demonstration). I’m looking around and there’s no way four dudes who are broke and have no money trying to figure it out could have did this. But seriously, God did this. God’s doing it. Oftentimes people talk about revival and they think it’s about a church building. But I believe it’s this. Outside of some walls and outside of a steeple or whatever. This is it. And with that, oftentimes we think we can do it without God. But these moments humble us. They really do. They bring us together. They allow us to look up. They allow us to look within. We need all three. We need to be together. We need to look within as we leave here.
Shame on Clemson football, shame on Clemson University – shame on everybody who walked up here if we leave here and don’t take another step. Shame on us…The biggest goal is for this to be to be a step in the right direction and for it to be a trickle down effect for more steps. Hopefully after today we see a pivot in our lives, our university, and our state. The nation is watching Clemson. They always have been. This little town has always been a light for the world and it won’t stop now. People come here from all across the country and the world and we send them out. Hopefully when we send them out to be anything better than where they are from.”
Trevor Lawrence who had recently tweeted out his thoughts on the injustice he has seen his sisters and brothers go through had this to say to the crowd…
“The past few weeks I’ve been uncomfortable. That word uncomfortable will be an important one in all of our steps in our journey to bring equality. I’ve learned that every truly good thing in life comes from being brave and stepping into the uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to set aside everything I know about America and listen to someone else’s perspective. However, it’s necessary.”
Swinney, who many know, has caught a lot of grief over the last few weeks. First, for not speaking fast enough. Then was criticized for what he said when he did speak. He’s also been accused of tone deaf and even as had some that went as far calling him racist.
Swinney also spoke at the event.
“This is a historic time, and a challenging time. But as I tell my team all the time, challenge is what creates change. … Black lives more than matter — Black lives significantly matter and equally matter. For far too long that has not been the case for the Black community. Now is the time to push for equal justice and no longer tolerate police brutality or racism of any kind in this country.
Nuk Hopkins will always be remembered for his amazing career – and fourth and 16 and Deshaun Watson will always be remembered for his fearless leadership and how he led us to our first national championship in 35 years. They both brought us a lot of joy, a lot of joy to Clemson. We should no longer expect them or our players to hear our cheers if we do not hear their cries.
I’m embarrassed to say that there are things on this campus I didn’t really understand. I knew the basics but not the details. But I’ve learned and I’ve listened.
As you saw today and moving forward, it has to be everyone’s responsibility. Not just some people’s responsibility. It has to be everybody’s responsibility to be more aware, to learn more and to speak out against racial inequality.”
Another really good thing about this history making day was the fact that it did not matter which team these players are on at a time like this as they stood in unison. Rivalries were put aside as Rencher’s sign was sent to him by South Carolina backup quarterback Jay Urich.
This sign went viral last week when Urich held it during the UoSC protest. Urich and Rencher are best friends. He shipped it overnight so that Rencher could carry it during Saturday’s march.
Their teams may be rivals but the message is the same. The rest of the nation could use some pointers from these two.