Student athletes call for change during period of national unrest

Young people have often played a key role in ushering in social change – and the recent unrest in the country over racism and police brutality is no different.
As a Princeton University basketball player, Elijah Barnes has plenty to lose. There is the threat of coronavirus and protests have turned violent. But Barnes says that it is worth the risk.
“Why, if I carry a sign and I change Breonna Taylor’s name, should I have to worry about my safety?” he says.
Barnes says that he wants to use his platform as an athlete. He has been to about 10 protests in the last two weeks and says that he is inspired to see how many others have taken to the streets after the death of George Floyd.
“To see a full 8 minutes and 46 seconds of the last moments of a man’s life is very impactful,” he says.
He says it is emotional.
“If we want change, we must be the change. If we want peace, we must demonstrate peace,” says A’Liah Moore, who has a soccer scholarship at Monmouth University.
Photos: Protests Across New Jersey

Moore says that she is channeling her energy into activism. She was moved to tears while speaking at a protest in Lakewood.
“I felt the crowd’s grief and everyone’s pain,” she says.
She says that she also needed support. She says that she normally gets it from teammates, but on the subject of race and protests, many have fallen silent.
“This is a problem. Why is it we have to go to each other, not our town teammates about what’s going on? You know, just because they’re white doesn’t matter. They’re our teammates and we’re hurting right now,” Moore says.
Moore says that a Zoom call helped the team talk through the divisive topic. She says that it is not the first time that she has struggled with her identity on a mostly-white campus.
“I also wear Monmouth gear like all the time, wherever I go, I just do it so it will protect me,” she says.
New Jersey is home to many legendary athletes who have turned to activism, like Paul Robeson of Rutgers.