Thousands turn out to Clemson for peaceful ‘March for Change’

Thousands turn out to Clemson for peaceful ‘March for Change’
Clemson football organizes "A March for Change" protest for Saturday (Source: WYFF / Marc Whiteman)

CLEMSON, SC (WYFF) — The Clemson football team was joined by a sea of demonstrators Saturday in a peaceful campus protest and "A March for Change."

The protest was organized by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Darien Rencher, wide receiver Cornell Powell and linebacker Mike Jones Jr.

"Police brutality and injustice and everything that's been going on around the world that you've been seeing man; we stand against that," Powell said.

It came after weeks of national protest against racial inequality and police brutality following George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis on May 25.

The peaceful demonstration began at Bowman Field with players and other speakers, including Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, addressing the crowd.

“I always tell our team that you have to create change from the inside out, and if we want the world to change around us we have to start doing what is right for Clemson,” Swinney said.

The crowd observed 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence, which is the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer held George Floyd down by the neck, with his knee.

Players asked the crowd to think about different things during each minute, like equality, love and unity.

"So let's continue to listen, learn and love, even when it is uncomfortable. Especially when it is uncomfortable. Because this is when change happens, and the world for generations to come will be different, it will be better," Lawrence said.

Protesters then took to the street, marching off campus and into the town of Clemson as they chanted "Black Lives Matter," and "No Justice, No Peace."

"Something has to change," one protester said. "I don't know how you can live through systemic racism for as long as it has been around and not want to enact change."

The call for change comes after a historic week at Clemson when the university board of trustees voted Friday to change the name of the Calhoun Honors College, named after John C. Calhoun.

Calhoun, who served as Vice President of the United States from 1825-32, strongly supported slavery, saying that it “was not an 'evil,' but rather a 'positive good.'”

Board members also introduced a resolution to ask the South Carolina Legislature to allow the board to rename Tillman Hall.

Former South Carolina Gov. Benjamin "Pitchfork" Tillman was and white supremacist and staunch opponent of civil rights.

Because of the state’s Heritage Act, a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly is required to change any of historical structures, including a building’s name.

Clemson estimates 3,000 people attended the event.

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