Texas takes stand against social injustice in return to campus

Donnavan Smoot

As football student-athletes return to campus for voluntary workouts, Texas Athletics continues its fight for racial justice. 

Last week, Texas football players and coaches marched from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to the Texas Capitol in honor of George Floyd and other Black victims of police brutality. Once the team arrived at the Capitol, the players knelt for nine minutes, the same amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck.

“It felt really good to be a part of something and support my teammates like that,” senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger said in a virtual press conference Thursday. “I suggest that anyone who hasn't been able to participate in a protest or a walk takes a knee for or lays down for nine minutes, and really thinks about how long that time period is.”

The Longhorns are insistent that their contributions don’t end with taking a knee, but rather are furthered by internal conversations and actions.

Within the program, conversations that have taken place have opened the eyes of many. Prior to the protest, the team held a meeting that lasted several hours, where the Longhorns discussed the climate of the nation. It was there that the perspectives of the players were not only shared, but understood.

“I saw many light bulbs go off just when we first had the initial team meeting,” junior safety Caden Sterns said. “A lot of people are like, ‘Wow, I never looked at it that way. I really didn't understand that this was really going on because it wasn't really affecting me.’”

Although the meeting was helpful, that isn’t where Texas plans to stop.

“It starts with education first,” Sterns said. “We’ll get the ball rolling and obviously getting registered to vote and educating (ourselves) on the politics side, which I have no clue about, so I really have to do some research.”

Texas head coach Tom Herman was one of the first college football coaches in the country to speak out on racial injustice in America in last week’s comments on Fox Sports’ “The Herd.” He said he and the team are committed to keeping Texas football on the forefront of social change.

“(I’m) extremely proud of them for what they’ve done up and to this point, but just as proud, maybe even prouder, of the continuation of that mindset,” Herman said.