It was a powerful moment, rife with symbolism.
A march for equality Monday organized by University of Alabama football players ended at the spot on campus where then-Gov. George Wallace stood to block Black students from entering in 1963.
“We walked to this little house door intentionally, because while much has changed in the last 57 years, too many things have not,” Alabama running back Najee Harris told the crowd, wearing a “Defend Black Lives” T-shirt.
Droves of young people marched, bearing “Black Lives Matter” banners and signs.
The event comes amid the civil unrest that’s rocked the country since George Floyd’s death during an arrest in Minnesota in May, with protests against racial injustice taking place daily in places like Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot seven times by police.
The football team had posted a moving anti-racist, pro-equality video on Twitter in June. The march was the team’s idea, Coach Nick Saban said.
“We want all Alabama athletes to join us,” Harris said in a tweet Friday publicizing the march. “This isn’t a fan day … this isn’t a football game … this is about lasting CHANGE!”
“Today, I’m like a proud parent,” Saban said.
“I’m very proud and supportive of what they are trying to say in a peaceful and intelligent way.”
Marching students held up signs that read: “Until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter,” and “Stand for something or fall for anything.”
“I’m only a 22-year-old man,” Chris Jones, a student, told march attendees. “But the things I’ve seen and experienced in my life have been enough for me to grow tired of the struggles people have to deal with in this society.”