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Alabama athletes, coaches march to Foster Auditorium in protest of racial injustice

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports
University of Alabama football players along with other student athletes march to support social justice Monday, August 31, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  The athletes and coaches marched to Fosters Auditorium, the site of the famous stand in the Schoolhouse Door to voice their support for social justice. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Over a hundred University of Alabama athletes, coaches and support staff marched from the Mal M. Moore Athletic Building to Foster Auditorium on Monday afternoon, protesting racial injustice. After reaching Foster Auditorium – where the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door took place on June 11, 1963 – UA football coach Nick Saban was the first of eight speakers.

“I’m like a proud parent today,” Saban said.

Three of Saban’s players spoke: running back Najee Harris, outside linebacker Jarez Parks and offensive lineman Chris Owens. Harris said the momentum of the movement cannot wane and outlined his own plans for continuing community involvement to further the cause.

Parks and Owens spoke from personal examples.

“In sports, a team is a place where everyone has an equal opportunity of being successful, and in order to get things done on the field of play we must all come together and unite as one,” Owens said. “Now look at the status of our country. Unlike our team, our country is not a place of equality and unity at the moment. Because of this, we are unable to accomplish our goal of a just society.”

Parks said, “My life has been in a constant fear of knowing no matter how educated, how intelligent, how skilled I am, that my skin can be a perception-changer.”

The march and speeches at Foster Auditorium all spanned about 45 minutes. Most athletes went back to the athletic buildings the way they came, some still holding their signs above their heads.

The other speakers at the event were UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, UA Police Department Chief John Hooks, UA President Stuart R. Bell and UA Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Christine Taylor.

They all expressed pride in the students who organized the march. Taylor encouraged them all to partake in the “nationwide party on Nov. 3,” Election Day. 

“At the University of Alabama, we can help lead bringing people together, uniting, because of our student-athletes and the passion that everyone has for our great university,” Byrne said.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson