Student-athletes wait for a response to their letter. A rally was held at memorial stadium on Tuesday night to bring awareness towards racial injustice and police brutality.
Emily Cheramie of Georgetown, Kentucky, is a member of the UNL rifle team and is just one of the several Minority Student Athlete Collective (MSAC) members who spoke at the event. She talked about the deafening silence members are experiencing after writing a Legacy Over Image letter to the Nebraska Athletic Department in August.
“What is asked in this letter is not unreasonable; it is honestly the bare minimum of what our athletic department should be doing,” Cheramie said.
The Legacy Over Image letter describes a list of changes for the administration and staff of Nebraska Athletics. It ranges from a decrease in the large gap between the minority staff population and the minority student population to a public statement acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement.
MSAC wanted to see steps toward change implemented this fall semester. Members also gave a three- to five- year timeframe for adjustments in minority representation among staff.
Cheramie said if the athletic department were taking care of the student-athletes as promised, there would be no need to write a letter of requests and they would be “acting faster, trying harder and doing more.”
Samuel Phillips of Los Angeles is a member of the UNL gymnastics team. He talked about the mental exhaustion he experienced from watching the media, working to educate and staying aware while living as a black man.
“We have to sacrifice our energy and our free time to worry about the horrors our community goes through,” he said.
The letter demands that in order to fully achieve the level of excellence students have been taught to strive for at Nebraska, changes must be made to ensure that, “there is no place like Nebraska.”
Taylor Johnson of San Jose, California, and a member of the UNL track team, gave a poetic speech that highlighted what it means to be a black woman.
“Don’t ask me to ignore the institutional racism that I see every day,” she said.
Although many coaches have shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Nebraska Athletics department had not released an official statement as of Sept. 15, 2020.
“Tonight would have happened with or without your approval. We are no longer asking permission to do what is right,” Cheramie said.