“We’re Not Just Entertainment”: UNC Student-Athletes March Against Racial Injustice | #students | #parents

“This might be the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said UNC fifth-year senior Daniel McArthur on the steps of Morehead Planetarium.

The captain and thrower for the Tar Heels men’s track and field team was one of several student-athletes who spoke on Saturday following a march organized by the Carolina Athletics community. With every UNC sports program represented and wearing black, the group marched down Franklin Street while advocating for an end to racial injustice and systemic racism.

McArthur, who is white, said the players’ demonstration represents something more than the Carolina Family and instead represents the need for change by his race.

“White people: stand up for your fellow Black people,” he urged. “Because guess what? There’s no difference at all and it’s time for us to realize that as a society.”

UNC student-athletes, coaches and others gather for a photo at Morehead Planetarium during an event protesting racial injustice.

His teammate, junior thrower Madias Loper, spoke as well. He encouraged Black Tar Heel athletes like himself to use their platforms to share messages of change.

“And no one is saying that if we keep marching anything is going to change today, in the next six months or next year,” said Loper. “But this creates a pattern for change. And that’s what we want: an equal fight. We don’t want any advantages, we want to be treated like human beings.”

Saturday’s demonstration comes in the wake of a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where officers shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back seven times.

UNC women’s soccer forward and co-organizer of the march Rachel Jones referenced this incident and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officers earlier this year when addressing the crowd.

“We’re all told from a very young age,” she described, “‘whenever you’re pulled over by the police, do anything they say. Don’t do any quick movements, keep your hands in sight.’ What are we supposed to do when we follow all those rules and they still think we’re scary? What are we supposed to do when we’re face-down on the ground with a police officer’s leg in our necks and yet they’re still threatened by us? The system is broken.”

UNC was not the only college campus that saw demonstrations by student-athletes on Saturday. University of Tennessee players held a similar demonstration to denounce racial injustice as part of a movement called March on My Campus 2020.

Nicole Barnes, a junior sprinter and hurdler for the women’s track and field team, co-organized the UNC event, as did her teammate Lauryn Hall, a junior sprinter. Barnes explained her reasoning for wanting to do something in connection with other schools’ demonstrations.

“It’s to show the NCAA and everybody in the world we’re not just entertainment,” she said. “We have a voice and we’re going to show it no matter what.”

During the demonstration, the Carolina Athletics program shared a tweet in support of the group.

“We support our student-athletes peacefully protesting today in support of Black Lives Matter,” it said.

Some members of the UNC Athletics community spoke out on social media against the shooting Blake earlier this week after NBA playoff games were postponed amid player protests.

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