Sports has become one of the most viable avenues to force a spotlight on racial injustice, not least because so many of the most popular ones are dominated by Black men.
On Friday, football players from Ole Miss at the University of Mississippi chose to walk out of their practice in protest of the racist brutality that still kills Black men in America, their action ironically falling on the 65th anniversary of Emmet Till’s heinous killing in Mississippi.
“Police Brutality and other injustices occurring across our nation have to end,” said the players in a statement about their protest. “Our team stands united to embrace our diversity and promote a culture of peace, equality, and understanding.”
Videos posted on social media show the student players gathered under a Confederate monument in Oxford, Mississippi and calling out various protests like “hands up, don’t shoot.”
One player told CBS News that their action was inspired by the strike launched by NBA athletes earlier this week after police shot Jacob Blake, an African-American man, in front of his children in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“We as student-athletes have that platform where the world really pays attention to us and we can easily have an impact on the less informed,” he said.
Though the team’s head coach Lane Kiffen was there marching with the players, it would be a mistake to assume the demonstration against racism didn’t ruffle feathers in Mississippi.
Shortly after the protest at the above-mentioned Confederate statue, local reports show that police gathered around the monument to protect it.