CLEMSON, S.C. (WIS) - The Clemson football team will march in peaceful protest Saturday on campus in what the team is calling "A March for Change."
The protest, organized by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Darien Rencher, wide receiver Cornell Powell and linebacker Mike Jones Jr., arrives amid weeks of national protest against racial inequality and police brutality following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis on May 25.
The peaceful demonstration is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Bowman Field, with the organizers encouraging those attending to wear black, maintain social distancing and wear facial coverings.
"We don't want it to be something that's looked at to divide further, we want to bring everyone together," Lawrence said during a teleconference with the other three student-athletes and the media Thursday afternoon. "We think that's what's gonna happen on Saturday."
"This is the opportunity to put yourself in an uncomfortable spot and get a chance to listen to somebody you might not have ever had the chance to be around or have a conversation with," added Jones Jr.
Eventually, the discussion turned to Dabo Swinney, who has drawn criticism in recent weeks for his handling of the Danny Pearman incident after the assistant coach used a racial slur during a 2017 practice and for wearing a "Football Matters" T-shirt over the weekend in what some viewed as a a direct contrast to the Black Lives Matter protests.
Each of the student-athletes made available Thursday defended Swinney's character, praising his willingness to listen and learn from the experiences of his black players.
"I think we're all in a position to be educated and learn how to better handle situations," said Rencher. "That's everybody. We're in new territory here and figuring the best way about it."
“With Coach Swinney, for people that don’t know him, it’s easy to judge some things he does, but I think the biggest testament to who he is are the people who are around him every day,” Lawrence said. “He’s been behind us this whole time. We fully support him and he fully supports us.”