The University of Virginia’s community has proven strong recently, as hundreds of students and Charlottesville residents have come together in the streets to protest racial inequality and elevate black voices. However, the community extends further than just one physical place. Groups of alumni, now living in cities across the country, have been active in taking a stand condemning police brutality and all forms of racism.
Former members of Virginia’s basketball program Malcolm Brogdon and Justin Anderson stood side by side in downtown Atlanta, as they marched in protest of the recent killing of George Floyd and the overall mistreatment of Blacks in America. The two alumni joined Celtics’ Jaylen Brown in an attempt to bring the city together for something more than basketball. Brogdon told ESPN that without continuous protests, he fears people will become numb to the disproportionate violence toward Black Americans.
“It is important that we stay outraged.” said Brogdon.
Although physical protests are inevitably going to fade, Brogdon has been persistent in sharing his belief that when they are over, there is still so much more to be done. Whether it be holding city officials accountable, or just having more uncomfortable conversations about race, Brogdon emphasizes the need for Americans to focus on the humanity in each other and continue on this fight for equality.
Chris Long, another Virginia alumnus and former NFL star, has committed to using his personal podcast Green Light to elevate the voices of his Black guests and speak up about the clear racial injustice he has seen himself. In brainstorming how to contribute to the movement as a white man, Long told audiences of his realization that this platform “can be a force for good and for understanding and conversation”. In his most recent episode, two of his former teammates Devin McCourty and Michael Bennett came on to share their experiences. Having built a space for tough conversation in sports, Long has recently been intentional about welcoming Black voices and turning listeners’ ears to perspectives on race that he cannot provide, but knows are important in a time like this.
All over the country, members of the UVA community and alumni have voiced solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and spoken up against racial injustice. Professional athletes in our community have used their platforms to lift up the voices that are otherwise not heard, and encourage fans and followers to do better in their communities. Brogdon, Anderson, Long, and many more have sparked hope for a better future, with motivation to change not just the game, but the world too.