JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- East Tennessee State University Athletics is launching a 12-part video series exploring the experiences of Black student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. The video interviews discuss topics like racism and equality.
The first ‘Jerseys For Social Justice’ video was released Tuesday. It features ETSU football running back Quay Holmes. He in part discusses the impact of seeing deaths like George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s play out on TV.
“It’s a mix of emotions. Anger, sadness, confusion. At a point in time, you just get to thinking, why? Why does this have to happen? Especially, specifically to us as Black people,” Holmes says during his interview.
Speaking with News Channel 11, ETSU Athletics Director Scott Carter called the department the ‘front porch’ of the University, and said they want to use their visibility for good.
“This country obviously has gone through a lot over the past several months. And really, I guess it was a few days after the death of George Floyd that we started having some very significant conversations,” said Carter.
The project aims to show the humanity of the athletes, rather than their entertainment value. Carter says he’s proud of the students for speaking out.
“When the lights are on, and the three-pointers, touchdowns, strike-outs, home runs, and all those things are happening – it’s a celebratory situation and there’s certainly a platform that’s there,” said Carter. “But the most important things in life are how we treat one another.”
The series will end in late October, but Carter hopes it’s just beginning. The project is the result of University’s What’s Important Now (WIN) committee made up of ETSU athletic staff members. They’ve led mandatory staff-wide racism and equality training as well as a voter registration campaign.
Carter said in recent weeks, their goal has been to achieve 100 percent voter registration in the department. The Athletics Department is also giving student-athletes November 3rd off from any practices or games so they can go vote on Election Day.