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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sports

UH’s march a ‘wonderful display of unity’ seeking justice for all


Senior linebacker Grant Stuard (middle) on why he has used his voice to advocate for equality: "I saw my team fighting against each other. So I took it upon myself to educate myself about everybody’s opinion, everybody’s beliefs and to understand that unity is the only way we can move forward." | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

Senior linebacker Grant Stuard (middle) on why he has used his voice to advocate for equality: “I saw my team fighting against each other. So I took it upon myself to educate myself about everybody’s opinion, everybody’s beliefs and to understand that unity is the only way we can move forward.” | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

The University’s student-athletes made a statement of unity on Saturday when all the different programs came together to march across campus and get the message across that they want justice and equality for everyone.

“It’s a wonderful display of unity and what people can do when they come together regardless of the color of their skin towards a movement that really just speaks towards justice for everybody,” senior linebacker Grant Stuard said.

The march on Saturday was all student-led. Athletes from different programs were given the opportunity to talk about their experiences, emotions and express the future they envision.

“It’s big for our school,” junior basketball guard Quentin Grimes said. “We’re just showing how we can come together as a whole school and as an athletic department and just bring light to what is going on in the world with racial injustice right now.”

Following weeks of turmoil and outrage across the country after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, many athletes, both professional and collegiate, have used their platform to let their frustrations out.

The athletes at UH were no exception, and on top of expressing their frustrations, they also reminded people that what they desire is not attached to any group. Their desire is for everyone to be treated equally.

“It’s not anything political or anything like that,” women’s basketball head coach Ronald Hughey told reporters at the demonstration. “It’s their passion and their voice for change.”

A passion that was made clear as the student-athletes marched and chanted across the entire campus. 

A walk that began at the doorsteps of TDECU Stadium, then passing The Quad and Cougar Village II, ended back at the Fertitta Center. 

Before all the student-athletes, coaches and even department leaders went their separate ways, they all stood nearby at the concrete steps of the Fertitta Center, and listened to various student-athletes speak again.

Of the many athletes that talked, Stuard’s message stood out loud and clear.

“To the people that get angry when they hear the words, Black Lives Matter,” he said. “To the people that think that this march is purely about politics … please understand that we do want everyone to be treated fairly in this country, regardless of the color of their skin.

“And when we at UH, say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it is because they do. These words are being spoken because there is a real issue in our country.”

As Stuard’s words echoed through the plaza at Fertitta Center, multiple UH student-athletes cheered and clapped in support.

“It’s that kind of passion that’s going to carry this generation forward,” men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “And that’s the generation that matters. Young people they’re smart, they’re driven, they’re motivated all across the country.”

As for the coaches, they will continue to support the student-athletes every step of the way.

“We’re not holding them back,” volleyball head coach David Rehr said.

While the days between Saturday’s march and the present day will grow, the hope that the UH student-athletes have is that it was only the beginning in the fight for equality.

“Some people try to overlook what’s going on, and try to keep doing certain stuff,” redshirt freshman forward J’Wan Roberts said. “But I feel like, with this situation we got right now, we can get together to start a movement.”

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