Gators speak up about social injustice: ’We’re not just entertainment’
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida athletes are in the trenches, fighting for social justice.
“As a team, we need to step up and say something to bring awareness to everything that’s happening,” said Gators linebacker Ventrell Miller. “Things are not right. Just speaking out and everyone having their own voice, speak out on your own and as a team as well.”
Last Friday, Gators head coach Dan Mullen walked along side his players to bring awareness to the problems that face Black young men.
“I’m supportive of our guys. You hear me talk about education. That’s a challenge for everybody,” Mullen told reporters on Saturday. “Try to educate yourself in what goes on in the world, and try to educate yourself about other people.”
“We just look for the coaches support right now. That’s all we need from them,” said Florida cornerback Marco WIlson. “I know some coaches know what we went through, but other coaches might not know. And those coaches—we don’t really expect them to understand that at all, we just want them to be there to support us.”
“I feel like those conversations are getting more serious because everything that’s happening and keeps happening,” added Miller. “The players are more concerned and want to bring awareness, want things to change, so the players are speaking up more and wanting to have conversations and stuff.”
“We also just want our voice heard, because what’s going on in the country is not okay, and it’s obviously something that should be gone by now, but we have to face the facts that racism is still a thing: It’s still going on,” said Wilson. “We’ve got to make sure we just continue to educate people, because I think the main problem in this world right now is a lot of uneducated people, and that leads to them making bad decisions and thinking the wrong things about people when they really should just focus on loving each other and living life.”
These Florida players want to help change the narrative behind the movement. On the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, Florida basketball player, Scottie Lewis and several athletes helped lead a crowd of about 300 from University Avenue and 13th St. to Bo Diddley Plaza, chanting for change.
‘You’re an athlete, I don’t have to listen to you,’ is a phrase these athletes, young men hear quite often, however, Wilson and his teammates just hope to be listened to. They are hoping for change.
“If you’re gonna support us on the field, I would like the same respect off the field,” said Wilson. “Just don’t support us just because we go catch touchdowns, catch interceptions. If you’re gonna watch us on the field, have the same respect off the field. We’re not just entertainment for you guys, we’re still people too. So it just needs to be a mutual respect all around.”
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