Major Redz leave section due to safety concerns

Bryson Keltner

The Major Redz dance group was moved to a different location for the WKU football game against Houston Baptist University on Saturday, Oct. 1 for safety concerns, according to Major Redz members and the WKU athletic department, and may remain there for future games, including homecoming.

The dance organization began protesting during the football game against Vanderbilt University on Saturday, Sept. 24 when they knelt during the game’s national anthem. After the women experienced backlash, the WKU athletic department moved them to a different location in the stadium for the next home game.

Louisville junior Brittany Perry has been dancing with the group since her freshman year. She described her experience during the first protest.

“To be honest, it scared me when we did it the first time because people don’t get searched at the games,” Perry said. “You don’t know what could have happened. With everything that’s been going on lately, you don’t know how it could have turned out.”

The women faced opposition during the first protest as a spectator threw a beer can at the group and other members of the crowd shouted profanities. Backlash continued after the game through social media. However, the adviser for the Major Redz, Josclynn Brandon, instructed the dancers to not react during the protest or after.

“It was pretty hard for us when the backlash started,” Perry said. “Most of us are outspoken people on the team and we were told ‘Don’t react. Just keep smiling. Just be there. Don’t respond because that’s giving them what they want.’ You have to prepare yourself mentally for that. We have to be strong enough to handle it.”

Tahjena Muldrow, a freshman from Louisville, also shared her thoughts on having to keep quiet.

“It’s hard because I want to explain it to some people, not to argue with them, because I believe it can be misconstrued,” Muldrow said. “We are kneeling to show respect to those veterans and the people who have lost their lives for the rights that we have, but we are also not standing for a country that does not give us all the rights that we should have.”

The Redz moved to the opposite side of the stadium on the edge of the student section for the Houston Baptist game. The WKU Associate Athletic Director of Communications and Media Relations, Kyle Neaves, explained in an email how the move occurred.

“The discussion was initiated by the Major Redz, who requested more security for their student group,” Neaves wrote. “The athletic department then determined the best course of action that provided the Major Redz with the most security was to move them to a new location. They are welcome to continue to perform in the new location.”

Muldrow explained how she felt about the group performing in the new area relatively close to the away team’s section.

“I support that they moved us for safety reasons, but after being there, nothing really happened,” Muldrow said. “Being on the opposite end of the band made it kind of hard hearing different sounds. We were also close to the other team’s fan section. So, that was difficult, but I understand the safety part of it.”

Neaves also commented in an additional email on the security of the stadium during games.

“There are 45 uniformed university, local and state police officers and 90 CSC [Contemporary Service Corporation] staff members at every home football game,” he wrote.

According to its website, the CSC is an international crowd management and event security organization that focuses on safety during large events.

With the location change and the safety precautions, the dancers say they will continue to protest at the rest of the home games, including the homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 22. Louisville freshman Kennedi Parks gave her reasoning.

“We’re doing this because we want to make a change,” Parks said. “It’s time for something to be said. It’s been going on for a while, and we want to build peace.”

Correction: Due to a mistake in editing, the previous version of this article said the Major Redz were moved out of the student section. Technically, according to how the stadium seats are zoned, the section the Major Redz danced in for the Houston Baptist game is at the edge of the student section. The Herald regrets the error and encourages readers to report errors in the future in order to remain factual and accountable. 

 Reporter Bryson Keltner can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]