Athletes protest

WKU football player Mario Wright speaks to start the protest organized by the Student Athlete Advisory Council for the Black Lives Matters movement on Sept. 30, 2020.

Last Wednesday, WKU athletes, students and alumni gathered in front of Diddle Arena to voice their support for the Black Lives Matter movement as some attendees spoke on their experiences being Black in America and what the movement means to them.

This was the second demonstration on campus after the announcement of the charges, or lack thereof, for the officers involved in the Breonna Taylor’s death. This was the first time athletes have been in the forefront to speak out on these issues since the football team didn’t practice after the shooting of Jacob Blake.

The media was there to capture the movement as well as the WKU Athletics Department. This was the first time the official WKU sports page run by the Athletics Department has acknowledged the social injustices that have been going on in the country.

This isn’t me being negative, but me just saying WKU Athletics need to do more, stand up for their student-athletes more and speak out on these issues.

“Since I’ve been here, this is probably the first time something like this has happened — this should go down in the history books,” junior defensive end Demarquez Trotter said at the march. “This was a historical event for the campus and hopefully will inspire more campuses to do something.”

When compared to other schools in the state, University of Louisville and University of Kentucky have vehemently backed their athletes trying to bring change especially to a state that has been stubborn and resistant to such change.

Those schools and teams knew there would be a lot of backlash when they made videos, marched or any form of supporting Black Lives Matter and speaking out on police brutality.

On Sept. 24, WKU graduate linebacker Eli Brown, who was a part of the demonstration on Wednesday, 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 isn’t the only one who feels this way as other athletes from multiple sports retweeted his tweet and agreed. Black Americans make up a big part of WKU Athletics, and there’s no reason why they should feel like the school they chose to go to doesn’t care about them as much as they thought.

This isn’t about politics. Black Lives Matter isn’t about politics. It’s a human rights issue that has never gone away but has only reformed.

WKU Athletics did a good job highlighting what these athletes were able to do Wednesday night, but it’s not enough. Don’t let this be a one and done deal. This isn’t a one time photo opportunity to show that they care.

This is an issue that Black Americans have had to deal with for 400 years, and the people up top need to continuously use the big platforms available to back these students and their message, whether the community agrees with it or not.

Like WKU defensive end Juwan Jones said, “be the change you want to see.” Help these players, students, alumni and community members be the change.

Men’s basketball beat reporter & columnist Kaden Gaylord can be reached at kaden.gaylord559@topper.wku.edu. Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.

Kaden Gaylord is the men's basketball beat reporter for the College Heights Herald. He previously covered the softball team and women's volleyball team.