Clemson Community Peaceful Demonstration Lead by Members of the Clemson Football Team

June 19, 2020

Mike Jones, Darien Rencher, Cornell Powell, and Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence, Darien Rencher, Cornell Powell, and Mike Jones

Clemson students Mike Jones, Darien Rencher, Cornell Powell, and Trevor Lawrence were able to rally the Clemson community around them for games and events surrounding the Clemson Football program as members of the football team. When organizing this event, the four men envisioned themselves bringing individuals of different racial and ethnic and backgrounds together to rally around them once again. This time, instead of supporting their athletic endeavors, the community was tasked to rally around Mike, Darien, Cornell, and many more to fight against the social and racial injustices they have dealt with their entire life. When asked why he organized this event, Communication student, Mike Jones, explained “I felt it in my heart, I wanted to do something. I felt like we could make a change in our own community.”

In conjunction with Mike’s desire for change, on Saturday, June 13, 2020, over 3,000 members of the Clemson community made their way to Clemson University’s Bowman field, marching side-by-side and standing in solidarity with the black community. When standing on stage looking across Bowman Field and seeing the diversity of the crowd gathered, Darien Rencher exclaimed, “I find myself here with hope because I’m seeing the good already coming out of this madness and tragedy.”

Mike Jones

Talking with event organizer Mike Jones after the event, I found that he was on the same page as Darien and was feeling hopeful:

“It meant so much seeing everyone come out to the demonstration. Seeing more of a turnout than just black people showed me that the issues facing the black community aren’t necessarily just black issues anymore, and it showed me that people are starting to realize that it takes more than one group of people to create change and promote equality. Both the oppressed and the oppressors have to do their part in other to change the system.”

Throughout the event, the voices of not just student-athletes, but black men were heard. They not only expressed the pain and suffering contained in their own hearts as black men in America today, but also encouraged the audience to look into their own hearts. For Darien Rencher, this was the most important

Darien Rencher

and influential element of the event because “when we look in the mirror and deal with what is inside, this is what brings about change. When our heart changes, we change. As we change our homes change. As our homes change our society changes and hopefully our future changes.”

The turnout for this event gave these four student-athletes the affirmation that they can use their platform and extend it beyond football. Rencher noted, “step by step we are seeing we have the power to create change.”

When catching up with another one of the event organizers, Cornell Powell, he mentioned his satisfaction with the way he was able to use his platform to unite the community and is prepared to continue to do so:

Cornell Powell

“Saturday was beautiful. It was everything I could have imagined and more. To see the community come out and unite as one for the same cause was simply amazing! It was definitely a step in the right direction along with the renaming of the Honors College and the executive board requesting authority from the South Carolina General Assembly to rename Tillman Hall. Saturday showed that together we can achieve more. But it doesn’t stop there. We have a lot more work to be done and won’t stop until every black student, athlete or not, feels equal on Clemson campus.”

Call to Action

It is time for Clemson student-athletes, students, faculty, staff and fans to take the famous Clemson motto “ALL In” seriously. It is our job as members of this Clemson Community to support the students and athletes and off the field, inside and beyond of the classroom. It is time to stand up as a community to fight against and eradicate racism. If you can support members of the black community on game days, as a colleague, their roommate, or a friend; then you can support them every day and be a part of the change to combat racism.

We Thank the Following Student-Athletes for their Contributions to this Article:

Mike Jones: Communication Student and Student Athlete (Football) at Clemson University

Darien Rencher: Psychology Student and Student Athlete (Football) at Clemson University

Cornell Powell: Business Management Student and Student Athlete (Football) at Clemson University

All Photos Attributed to Clemson Athletics Staff (Via @clemsontigers on Twitter)

Author: Bridget Kane




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