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Clemson football head coach Dabo Swinney has joined his team and other members of the community in an on-campus demonstration for social justice, per Aaron Cheslock of Fox Carolina:
The football team organized “A March for Change,” per Marc Whiteman of WYFF 4. March leaders include quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Darien Rencher, wide receiver Cornell Powell and linebacker Mike Jones Jr.
The march was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, with organizers asking everyone to wear black, don masks and maintain social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Swinney offered a few words at the rally, per Cheslock:
“It has to be everybody’s responsible to be more aware, to learn more and to speak out against racial inequality,” Swinney said in part, per Matt Connolly of The State.
He also added: “I’m embarrassed to say that there’s things on this campus I didn’t really understand. I knew the basics but not the details. But I’ve learned and I’ve listened.”
Lawrence also tweeted this picture from the march and gave a few comments as well:
Swinney had come under fire recently after retaining assistant coach Danny Pearman despite word emerging that he used a racial slur during a 2017 practice. Swinney provided his side of the story, per ESPN’s Andrea Adelson:
“I would fire a coach immediately if he called a player an N-word. No questions asked. That did not happen. Absolutely did not happen. It has not happened. Coach Pearman was correcting [D.J. Greenlee], and another player was talking to D.J., or D.J. was yelling at the player, and D.J. said something he probably shouldn’t have said. He said, ‘I blocked the wrong f—ing N-word,’ and Coach Pearman thought he was saying it to him, and he’s mad, and he reacted, and in correcting him, he repeated the phrase.
“And [Pearman] said, ‘We don’t say we blocked the wrong f—ing N-word.’ And he repeated it. He shouldn’t have done that. There’s no excuse for even saying that. But there is a big difference. He did not call someone an N-word.”
Greenlee said in a statement that he believed the incident “may not have been addressed properly with my teammates at the time.”
Swinney also received criticism for wearing a “Football Matters” shirt, which some perceived to be making light of Black Lives Matter. ESPN’s Max Kellerman (h/t Dean Straka of 247Sports) said that the shirt showed “a lack of understanding.”
Swinney later released a video statement saying that his team would create positive change against racism, social injustice and brutality and expressed his support for Black Lives Matter:
The march comes amid a series of changes at the university, namely the Clemson Board of Trustees’ decision to rename Calhoun Honors College to Clemson University Honors College.
The namesake was John C. Calhoun, a two-time vice president and congressman who owned slaves and called slavery a “positive good.”
As for the march, it was clearly well-attended, per a picture from Connolly:
“An amazing scene at Clemson,” Mark Packer of SiriusXM Radio wrote. “Huge, peaceful turnout on Bowman Field. The student athletes that created the grassroots unity march did an incredible job.”