COLUMBIA, Mo. – Hundreds of University of Missouri athletes, students, coaches, and community members marched across MU’s campus Wednesday to protest social injustices and police brutality across the nation.
The University of Missouri Black Student-Athlete Association (BSAA), which formed in August, organized the march that started at the columns on Francis Quadrangle and ended with a sit-in and speeches from student-athletes at Faurot Field.
Student-athletes from all sports, backgrounds, and races united Wednesday, holding signs and fighting for change. Leaders of the BSAA stepped up to the microphone on Faurot Field and addressed the socially-distant, masked protestors sitting in the bleachers.
Many of them shared their experiences being Black in America.
“I want society to recognize that this a human rights issue, it is not political,” said Mizzou BSAA Vice President Kierra Slack, who is a junior on the women’s soccer team.
Washington, Missouri native and track and field athlete Cason Suggs stepped up to the mic on Faurot Field and held back tears sharing his story.
“When we leave the arena that title of athlete that we came in with that we had on the court, it stays on the court, it stays on the field because when we leave, we don’t have that title anymore, we’re just Black,” Suggs said. “When I take my spikes off, and I go into the street, sometimes I’m nervous and I’m doing anything I can to try to not look suspicious, because I’ve been traumatized because too many times I’ve had people call the police on me for walking in a neighborhood that I guess they figured I didn’t belong in.”
All of the athletes said it’s been incredible having their coaches support this movement.
Kobie Whiteside, a senior on the Mizzou football team, said Coach Eli Drinkwitz has shown that this movement is not just about color.
“As a white man taking our side, showing that it’s not just about color, but it’s a human race type of thing, and so seeing him back us up and putting up a figth with us, it means a lot to us,” he said.
This is not the first time the Mizzou Football team has taken a stand against social injustices. On Friday, the team, with their coaches support, canceled practice and instead focused on the current state of the country.
In a statement Friday, the football team said they wanted to use their platform to promote change. That messaged was echoed at the march and sit-in protest Wednesday.
BSAA said they want to keep the momentum and demand change because this is a movement, not a moment.