Four Clemson football players, including star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, are set to lead a protest march on campus Saturday, following in the footsteps of other demonstrations around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
The protest was organized by Lawrence and three teammates: receiver Cornell Powell, running back Darien Rencher and linebacker Mike Jones Jr.
Jones has worked for several weeks on collecting masks and bottled water to ensure safety for the participants, according to one of the event’s co-organizers, and the athletes have reached out to local businesses, police and Clemson’s president James Clements to coordinate the event.
In a lengthy Instagram Live interview, Jones offered significant insight into his thought process and what’s led to the protest movement.
“How can we change if somebody doesn’t know how that made you feel, making them feel you?” Jones said in the video. “That’s the reason we’re going to change things. So many people are voicing how they feel, and it was something people never cared to know — or maybe just didn’t know.”
Lawrence helped set the stage for an outpouring of support for social justice reform with a tweet sent May 29 that read, “There has to be a shift in the way of thinking. Rational must outweigh irrational. Justice must outweigh injustice. Love must outweigh hate. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you don’t like how it feels — that’s when you know things need to change.”
Clemson’s program has come under fire since then with the revelation that a white assistant coach used a racial epithet during practice in 2017 and was not fired by coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney addressed his handling of the situation — along with controversy over a “Football Matters” T-shirt he wore over the weekend — in a 14-minute statement earlier this week in which he offered support for his players and encouraged them to push for change.
Lawrence, who led Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman in 2018 and followed up with another title game appearance in a loss to LSU last season, enters his junior year as the odds-on pick to be the first player selected in next year’s NFL draft.
The protest march is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, beginning at Clemson’s Bowman Field.
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