In an emotional speech on Monday, African-American football player Michael Rose-Ivey revealed that fans had threatened to lynch him because he declined to participate in the national anthem.
At Sunday’s game, the Nebraska linebacker followed the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and kneeled to protest police violence during the national anthem.
Rose-Ivey explained during a press conference on Monday that he had received “way more positive” responses from fans, but he found the tone of the negative feedback to be disturbing.
“While the anthem played, I prayed along with DaiShon and Mohamed, and we asked God to watch over us and protect us, to look down on this country with grace and mercy and to look down on all of us with grace and mercy,” he told reporters. “As we looked at what’s been going on in this country, the injustices that have been taking place primarily against people of color, we all realized that there is a systemic problem in America that needs to be addressed.”
Rose-Ivey said that he did not expect “the enormous amount of hateful, racially-motivated comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the method of protest.”
“Some believed DaiShon, Mohamed and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot just like the other black people that have died recently,” the Cornhusker remarked as he choked up. “Another believed that since we didn’t want to stand for the anthem, we should be hung before the anthem for the next game.”
Rose-Ivey argued that it would be a mistake to attribute the attacks to internet trolls instead of institutional racism.
“I can’t tell you the numerous amount of times I’ve heard the N-word being shouted at my teammates and I from opposing fans from behind our bench,” he lamented. “My freshman year, I can remember going to a frat party and was told that ‘n—–s are not allowed in this house.’ We were escorted out several minutes later by security officers.”
“I believe we are supposed to look out for one another and call out the injustices in this world against the oppressed, even when you have nothing to gain and you have everything to lose,” he concluded. “I cannot also ignore those things that keep America divided. I believe in the promise of America, that tell me all men are created equal, and have the right of liberty, justice and equality. But unfortunately, America doesn’t always live up to those ideals.”
“It is my hope that in taking a knee, the consciousness of the entire nation will be raised and everyone will be challenged to truly come together and work toward fairness, equality and justice for all.”
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