On Saturday, June 13, 2020, thousands of members of the Clemson community gathered together on Bowman Field to demand racial equality. During the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, protestors practiced wore face masks while dressed in black and carried posters including messages like “Black Lives Matter”, “I Can’t Breathe”, and “Matter is the Minimum.”
Just weeks prior to the protest, George Floyd, a name that had reached nearly every corner of the world, was murdered in Minneapolis due to police brutality. Many other names along with Floyd were chanted and kneeled for, to call their names, to remember their names, and to diminish the existence of systemic racism especially present in the United States.
Organized by members of the football team, including Darien Rencher, Trevor Lawrence, Mike Jones Jr., and Cornell Powell, the protest featured multiple speakers, along with moments of silence and chants. On Friday before the protest, Clemson University trustees announced the name change of the Honors College which was previously named after John C. Calhoun, a slave owner and white supremacist who is identified as one of Clemson’s key historical figures.
Protestors set out with the intention to raise awareness regarding buildings on campus like Tillman Hall that are named after historical figures who also supported white supremacy. The protestors felt that these people do not represent Clemson University and the buildings they are named after celebrated their legacy. They felt as though many members of the minoritized population at Clemson couldn’t feel fully comfortable and accepted. The protest was an act of unifying the community to provide support for those who are underrepresented.
The protest gave members of the community the opportunity to voice their concerns and speak about the current events that had swept the nation. Many who participated in the protest felt hopeful for the future. Students, faculty, and other participants put their differences aside to unite and push Clemson into a positive direction.