Saban leads Alabama athletes on protest march


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban led dozens of his football players and other athletes on a march to protest social injustice and recent incidents of police brutality against Black men and women.

The group marched the short distance Monday on the school’s campus from the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility to Foster Auditorium, where segregationist Gov. George Wallace stood at the door in 1963 trying to block the entry of two Black students.

The Crimson Tide athletes, coaches and staff joined a series of organized events among football players and others in college athletics across the country in the wake of the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Such gatherings or marches have been held at schools such as Oklahoma, Kansas, Duke, Baylor, Mississippi and Mississippi State with others planned.

“For certain, we can’t let this momentum die,” tailback Najee Harris said. “This has to be an ongoing movement until change happens.

“We must do more as a team and as individuals to keep this movement going.”

Harris walked near Saban with a T-shirt reading “Defend Black Lives.” Other players held signs with messages like “Black Lives Matter” and “Stand for something or fall for anything.” Another sign read “Until Black Lives Matter” on the front and “All lives can’t matter” on the back.

“This is what helped me grow in my role as a leader, to listen to the players, to learn from the players and give them opportunities to do things that could impact social change today,” Saban said. “Today I’m like a proud parent.

“I’m proud of our messengers over here and I’m very proud of the message.”

Players Chris Owens and Jarez Parks also spoke, along with athletic director Greg Byrne, university president Stuart R. Bell and university Police Chief John Hooks.

“Equality, that’s all we want,” said Owens, Alabama’s center.

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