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C. Vivian Stringer urges unity after death of George Floyd

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The Hall of Famer and Rutgers women’s basketball coach issued a passionate statement on Monday night.

Michigan State v Rutgers Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

In recent days, the death of George Floyd has become a tragic story and sparked outrage across the United States of America. The 46 year old black American from Minneapolis, Minnesota died last week after police office Derek Chauvin pinned him down with his knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the last 2 minutes and 53 seconds of which Floyd was unresponsive after previously telling the officer he couldn’t breath. After news over his death became a national story, Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Protests and calls for change in our society, specifically against systematic racism and police brutality, have dominated the news cycle in the past few days.

Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs, Greg Schiano and the football team, and the men’s basketball coach have all issued statements here, here and here in the past two days.

On Monday evening, Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer issued a statement of her own on social media. She emphasized the need for unity in this country, the opportunity for growth, and relayed her own experiences as a black woman in America.

Stringer’s full statement is here:

“Real change cannot occur until we all stand together, the majority uniting with the minority, and serving justice to those who murder or torture to death any citizens unjustly,” Stringer wrote. “The protest of the last few days give me hope that the tides of racism will finally turn in this country as today’s youth begin to take their places in our society.”

“As my father taught me years ago, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” and those words resonate with me today.”

“I want to say thank you to those who have tried to effectuate change. I’m watching all the protests across the nation at this time, and I want to encourage those peaceful protesters who are not looting or destroying businesses. Black lives do matter, all Lives Matter. I am particularly happy and encouraged that the majority of protesters appear to be our young people of all ethnicities stepping up and speaking out now for justice in this manner. Real change cannot occur until we all stand together, the majority uniting with the minority, and serving justice to those who murder or torture to death any citizens unjustly.”

“The protest of the last few days give me hope that the tides of racism will finally turn in this country as today’s youth begin to take their places in our society. Much like I participated in the marches in the 60s and 70s that effectuated change and policies that helped minorities for years afterwards, the 2020 civil rights movement will take all of us (all races and genders and religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic backgrounds, abilities) from all over this country to come together, speak our truths and demand change. But we cannot allow our actions to not effect change. If we don’t come together to organize our fight, all of this is going to be done in vain. That’s why I’m calling on my colleagues to use their platforms to speak up. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“I would like to encourage my colleagues in sports to use their platforms to promote positivity and effect change in America. As sports figures – athletes and coaches – we have a platform to speak to many, and we must put it to good use. We must ALL use our voices to ensure a better future. Together we will win. America is a team of talent from all ethnicities, and any good coach knows that a team is only as strong as its weakest player, so we must all come together to ensure none of us are oppressed. Therefore, if an injustice happens to one of us, as Team America, that injustices has happened to all of us. That’s why I love sports. Sports on a surface level at its essence is supposed to be the best example of what a fair and even playing field looks like. It is the one area where you are judged by your skills, talent and merit rather than your race, religion, political affiliations or socioeconomic status.”

“From this tragedy we have a real opportunity for growth as a nation. It is inspirational to turn on every major news outlet and to witness the youth of today take up the mantle of my generation’s Civil Rights movement. Americans need to stop feeling powerless, disenfranchised and frustrated; we must become resolute in standing tall, speaking up, confirming our value and then get politically active in order to generate change. The Founding Fathers wanted all of us to feel empowered, recognize that we were all created equal and that every powerful sect in our country needs checks and balances. All citizen have the right to effectuate change, congregate for peaceful protest, speak their minds and deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Through a concerted effort, a “human covenant,” we can one day abolish the notions of the phobias and the isms (racism, sexism, homophobia) to turn this tragedy into a positive legacy for the next generation. We should all respect each other’s rights and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As a country let’s admit our history and recognize America has not respected the integrity of black life, the integrity of black humanity and let’s once and for all create a permanent change in our society. Our community has always known that this level of racism has been a systematic problem, but now thanks to technology the entire world knows it.”

“I want you to know that I am speaking to you as a Women’s Basketball Coach, a Black Woman, raised by parents who preached right versus wrong and truth and justice for all, a Mother of two Black sons, a Grandmother of two, an educator of young women, a surrogate mother to this same women, a staunch supporter of Women’s Rights, a student and participator of the Civil Rights movement and a mentor. In these capacities, I am acutely aware of the problem we have in this country with violence against African Americans. Throughout my entire life I have had to prepare my sons and surrogate daughters as to what to do whenever they encounter police (hands in plain sight, no sudden movements, watch your words and emotions, do not be argumentative) in the hopes that these encounters would not result in their untimely deaths. All these years later, I am still coaching yet heartbroken that African American deaths at the hands of some policemen, who are paid by our tax dollars, to protect us is still a common occurrence in America 2020. I am C. Vivian Stringer, and I encourage all Americans to join me in this fight.”