Athletes, students and coaches march University Avenue in support of Black Lives Matter

Hundreds gathered in one of the busiest intersections in Gainesville to support Black Lives Matter.
Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 11:36 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - University of Florida athletes were in the trenches on Friday, fighting for a cause that hits close to home.

“Speaking on behalf of all the athletes, we’re people before we’re players,” said Gators guard Scottie Lewis. “I was born black before I could dunk a basketball.”

Lewis, who has organized many protests in support of ’Black Lives Matter’ in both his hometown, Bronx, NY, and in Gainesville, was joined by his fellow Gator athletes. Florida football head coach Dan Mullen and his football team stood side by side with fellow Gators and other protestors fighting for change.

“I think it’s a big step in the right direction,” said Lewis.

“We have to educate ourselves. It’s a must. Surround yourself with people that don’t look like you. Invest times within those people. Make it an effort. Know where they come from and why they believe what they believe. We can be more unified if we choose to do that.”

On the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, a crowd of about 300 were unified as they marched from University Avenue and 13th St. to Bo Diddley Plaza, chanting for change.

“When there’s a will there’s a way,” said Lewis. “This is a huge marathon. What we’re trying to accomplish is something that people who set a foundation before us tried to accomplish. So it might not be fixed during our time but we can set a foundation for those after us and make sure they know that we were fighting for them to be better.”

The crowd yelled, “say his name, Jacob Blake. Say her name, Breonna Taylor.”

Giving a voice to the voiceless is a feat that Lewis says athletes can do together, despite having masks on.

Third-year UF Levin School of Law student Vieux Toure said it’s important to not only speak up but to show up when it matters the most.

“As a UF student I want to show like black students that they can go onto to being lawyers, doctors, whatever they want to be,” said Toure.

Toure wanted to bring awareness not only to black students at UF but to an experience that hits close to home.

“Someone who I knew growing up kamal flowers, my age, 24, black man,” said Toure. “He was murdered by police this summer in my hometown New Rochelle, New York. And the officers haven’t been indicted or arraigned in anyway. So I just want to say justice for Kamal Flowers.”

“As long as the fight is carrying on in Gainesville, we will be here for you guys,” yelled Lewis to the crowd.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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