Views from the Bottom of the Hill: This movement isn’t over

WKU+athletes+Juwan+Jones%2C+Demetrius+Cain%2C+and+Tavion+Hollingsworth+lead+protesters+down+Avenue+of+Champions+during+the+Black+Lives+Matter+protest+organized+by+WKU+Athletics+on+September+30%2C+2020.

Keilen Frazier

WKU athletes Juwan Jones, Demetrius Cain, and Tavion Hollingsworth lead protesters down Avenue of Champions during the Black Lives Matter protest organized by WKU Athletics on September 30, 2020.

Kaden Gaylord-Day, Men's basketball reporter

Last year, on Sept. 30, WKU athletes held an event in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. This was after the football team walked out of practice in protest following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Both the media and WKU’s athletics department were there to capture the special event, as it was the first time the official WKU sports page, run by the Athletics Department, acknowledged the social injustices that had dominated the headlines throughout the summer.

A week later, I wrote a column titled “Don’t Let This Be ‘One and Done’” to say that this shouldn’t be the only time WKU Athletics shines a light on the social injustices we face in this country.

Since then, what have they done? If there’s been anything, I haven’t heard about it.

I want to make it clear so there’s no confusion: I am not calling out the athletes. I am calling out WKU and its athletic department.

I used this quote in my piece last year and I will use it again. Two days before the event, former WKU linebacker Eli Brown tweeted, “For the amount of BLACK ATHLETES that attend WKU, it feels like nothing has been done to show that they care about equality [for real]. You can clearly tell this school cares more about the fans.”

He had a point, and many other WKU athletes cosigned Brown’s words with a like or retweet.

Both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky athletic departments have shown that they stand in solidarity with the athletes they have brought onto their campuses.

Both schools put out multiple videos in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and held walks and marches to help people register to vote, with some athletes registering to vote themselves.

Those are just a couple of ways WKU could help its athletes. If you want to show that these issues actually mean something to you, there are many organizations on campus to collaborate with that can help, such as the Black Student Leadership Conference, the Intercultural Student Engagement Center Academy and the Student Equity Council.

As I am writing this, it was brought to my attention that on Oct. 19, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee started a “Diversity & Inclusion” campaign for student athletes. This is definitely a good start and can turn into something great, but it took somebody involved with athletics to tell me about it as it was posted on an Instagram page with less than 150 followers when it should be on the main WKU Athletics page.

This generation has become more and more involved in social justice issues, and it means something to them. If you want to keep attracting great athletes to this campus, you have to show that you support them in every aspect of life, not just on the field.

Whether it’s coaches, S.I.D’s, Director of Athletes Todd Stewart or President Tim Caboni himself, do something that can continue to help make a difference in this community and these human lives.

Black Lives Matter isn’t a political issue or statement, it’s about our god-given human rights.

The Black Lives Matter movement didn’t start in 2020 and it didn’t end in 2020 either. It’s been a fight for equality that’s been going on for a long time and it will continue for years to come.

Don’t participate because it’s the trendy thing to do or because it’s good for publicity. Participate because you care about the lives of your predominantly black athletes.

Men’s basketball reporter Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.