By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Baylor student athletes wear the same name in the front of their uniforms in every game, match, race and competition. They practice in the same facilities and condition in the same weight rooms. They sit together in the same cafeteria. They are united under the same brand identity.
But Monday afternoon, Baylor’s student athletes came together to march in protest of social injustice. Whether they spend their days on a diamond, field, court or track, the Bears wanted to show that they were united for change. That they were united for each other.
The march, led once again by football sophomore Byron Hanspard Jr., began at the Simpson Athletic Center and ended in front of the Ferrell Center. Hanspard led a prayer for the athletes, coaches, staff and even other supporters that joined the march, before organizing them onto the sidewalk that borders University Parks Drive.
Men’s basketball junior Jared Butler, acrobatics and tumbling junior Jaila Williams and football senior Jay Sedwick also spoke to the socially distanced crowd of athletes that joined the march once they all reached the Ferrell Center.
“This could be the best day in Waco history, in Baylor history, as a sports program. What we’re doing — this is amazing,” Butler said. “But it also could be the worst day ever in Baylor history. When I say it can be the worst day is if we leave this congregation, if we leave this walk and we go home like nothing happened. Like, ‘Yeah, I did my marching, I held this sign, I took my picture for Instagram,’ and then we don’t think about it ever again.”
Butler said he didn’t want to be desensitized to the injustice that he was seeing. He told his fellow athletes that the first step to create change was to look inside themselves and examine their own hearts. And the next step was to take action.
“If you have feelings about something and you don’t do anything about it, is it really feelings?” Butler said. “Faith without works, is it really faith? I really encourage y’all to not just be fake peacemakers.”
Butler continued, saying that now was the time to make change in their community by standing up for people, starting conversations about injustice and voting.
Williams followed, sharing information about how social injustice affects Black Americans and encouraging her fellow athletes to speak up in solidarity. She said it was their responsibility to use their voices and platforms for change.
“No matter how far we say we’ve come, to neglect to say that our nation has a long way to go is to turn a blind eye to the injustice that surrounds us,” Williams said. “As athletes, as influencers, as people who are on display for thousands to see, we have not only the ability, but the wherewithal and the strength in numbers to be the megaphone that our communities need.”