They Peacefully Protested Racism – And Were Punished

Football helmets on field
Via Pixabay
Leslie Taylor-Grover
January 13, 2021

The hours before the big college game were not going well for the young men. They’d simply done what they thought was right – and it seemed like all Hell had broken loose!

These stellar student-athletes all played football. From leading the team to a winning record, to doing well in their classes, the teammates constantly gave the school positive attention. But on October 16th, 1969, there came a game they had to refuse to play.

Their opponent was Brigham Young University – a Mormon institution with racist religious views and no Black athletes. The men decided to wear Black armbands in opposition to the game, and it was downhill from there.

Their racist coach expelled them from the team, then snatched their scholarships! But this wasn’t the end of the story.

The actions of these students – dubbed the Black 14 – drew national attention, and surprisingly athletes and faculty from all over the nation showed their support! The coach lost his job the next year, and half a century later, the university apologized to them.

These men refused to be used to fill seats for games while being discriminated against, and had too much self-respect to play against a racist opponent. Even when there are consequences, we must always respect ourselves and challenge any system seeking to exploit and dehumanize us.

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