UNCG Student-Athlete Voices Are Loud And Proud
GREENSBORO, N.C. – With anger and despair hanging in the air like relentless and oppressive humidity, UNC Greensboro student-athletes Kaleb Hunter, Isaiah Miller, Rhianna Council, and Jordin Mosley were filled with hope and a sense of accomplishment after their inspiring involvement during peaceful protests throughout the state of North Carolina over the last few days.
Hunter, Miller, and Council participated in protests in Greensboro while Mosley joined one in Raleigh. Together they made a difference.
Hunter and Miller helped the men’s basketball team enjoy its fourth consecutive 20-win season. Council plays women’s basketball and was part of a 23-win team that advanced to the Southern Conference tournament championship game. A 5-6 junior midfielder, Mosley is a significant contributor for the women’s soccer team.
Many African-Americans are tired, hurt, frustrated, and mad about what has historically occurred throughout our country. Despite seminars, summits, speeches, rallies, and historical marches, things continue to remain the same whether it’s 1992, 2015 or 2020.
Last week’s death of George Floyd and the recent ones of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery ignited a weekend fury of simmering rage that included peaceful protests, violence, and looting in many of America’s major cities.
“I am lost for words,” said Miller, the 2019-20 SoCon Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. “I don’t have the right words because it seems like we are at this same point again. I am disappointed that (the killing of African-Americans by white police officers) are still going on. I feel like we should be taking more steps forward by now. Not going backward.”
The spasms of fear along with the horrific images, incendiary social media posts, and grim news reports were too much for Miller, Hunter, and Council, who knew they had to get involved in being part of the solution. They understand that real change occurs when everybody stands together and have meaningful discussion.
“We’re going to keep pushing to make everything better,” Miller said. (The protest) was so powerful. Seeing other black people out there gave my heart a lot of hope and faith. You have to be mentally strong to handle what life throws at you. I’ll do anything to help us move forward.”
For Miller that meant taking a break from preparing for the NBA Draft for which he declared for this past April. He was excited to be with his teammates and coaches as they chanted “No Justice, No Peace”, “Say His Name, George Floyd”, “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” while standing outside of the Civil Rights Museum and walking down Elm Street.
“It was powerful,” UNCG redshirt junior Kaleb Hunter said. “This was my first protest and being able to do it with my teammates and family was special. To be able to go out and protest peacefully was good. I am glad I got to participate (in the protest). I feel better about doing it. I think we took some steps forward by doing that. I am glad (racial issues are) getting talked about.”
In his letter to the campus community, UNCG chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam said that the “protests are the expression of mounting frustration over the country’s inability to solve the systemic inequities central to quality of life.”
Gilliam, who also detailed in his letter about the time he was detained in front of his driveway in Minneapolis because he looked suspicious, spoke with the men’s basketball team during its weekly Zoom call. The Spartan group chat was a lively exchange of ideas, feelings, and encouraging words.
UNCG head men’s basketball coach Wes Miller along with some of the coaches were part of the protests Monday afternoon in Greensboro.
In the women’s basketball group chat, they discussed protesting safely and shared different resources in which they could demonstrate their support. One idea suggested the different organizations in which they could donate to if they didn’t feel comfortable protesting.
Council’s weekend experience was unforgettable. The 5 foot, 11 inch redshirt senior marched over two miles for close to eight hours from the Civil Rights Museum to a highway last Saturday. Despite aching arms and weary legs, Council provided energy by holding up a white “Can’t Believe #BLM” sign with black writing on it and consistently chanting loudly. Greensboro Protest
Rhianna Council holds up her sign during the protests last Saturday in Greensboro.
“I was scared out of my mind, but I felt fantastic after knowing I walked that many miles for an important cause,” Council said. “It was a powerful and emotional experience to participate in a peaceful protest. It was a beautiful thing to see how everybody came together. I was helping people be loud when the chants died down even when my feet were killing me and my arms were tired. It was worth it.”
Meanwhile, the protests resonated with Mosley, who is proud of her bi-racial heritage. Her mom is white and her father is black. For her, it was an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the historical struggles of African-Americans and be part of the solution by marching and chanting. In addition to being motivated to make a difference, Mosley is also using the experience to educate and engage others, which is important.
“I would like to see people sticking with what they are posting (on social media) and follow it up with action steps,” Mosley said. “Don’t just post and make this is one-thing thing. This fight is on-going and it can’t stop. We need to see more people speaking out. They can continue to support by donating to causes and helping out. Once people stop doing that, then we are back to square one.”
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