The HVC Community Fights for Racial Justice
At the core of the HVC mission is you, our community, and the ability to bring people together under one roof. Physically and metaphorically.
The senseless death of George Floyd and the racially charged events happening as a result of it are deeply affecting members of our community. Our friends, teammates, and family members are hurting.
The Harvard Varsity Club staff, Board, and members stand united against bigotry, violence, and injustice toward all individuals, regardless of appearance, beliefs, or opinions.
When members of our community, whether it be students, coaches, or alumni, speak up or take positive actions, we will do our best to share that information with you. We know there are more in our community making a difference in this unprecedented fight; please share additional examples by emailing Andrew Chesebro and we will update this page periodically.
HVC Board Member and women's track & field alumna Theresa Moore '86 moderated a conversation titled Race, Sport, and Harvard: Conversations and Active Steps Towards Change on Wednesday, July 15. Panelists Chris Egi '18 (men's basketball), Josef Johnson '18 (wrestling), Ngozi Musa '19 (women's track & field), and Traci Green, The Sheila Kelly Palandjian Head Coach for Harvard Women's Tennis, shared their own personal stories of how race impacts their experiences as members of the Harvard Athletics community before opening the floor to Q&A.
Erin McDermott, The John D. Nichols '53 Family Director of Athletics, has announced the formation of the Harvard Athletics Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Task Force. The task force is committed to advancing an anti-racist culture within Crimson Athletics and the greater Harvard community.
"There are moments and events that reveal the need for reflection, inspection and action," McDermott said. "We are currently in one of those times as our country and local community confront systemic racism and racial inequalities. Harvard Athletics is committed to building upon an anti-racist culture. The formation of this task force is an acknowledgement that we can be better and need to create a diverse space where all feel seen, heard and valued. I am grateful to those who have raised their hands to participate in this critical work."
John Calipari, 35 other collegiate head coaches and the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation ("McLendon Foundation") has announced a partnership to help launch the McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative ("Minority Leadership Initiative," or "MLI"). This coach-driven initiative will provide minorities a jump-start to their careers through practical experiences, opportunities to build their network, and instilling the values of John McLendon: Integrity, Education, Leadership, and Mentorship. Participants in the initiative will be known as MLI Future Leaders.
As an ambassador for the MLI, Amaker is funding one MLI Future Leader each year for four years, and the Harvard Athletics Department plans to be a part of the MLI starting with the 2020-21 athletics season.
"It is a true honor to serve as an ambassador for the McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative under the umbrella of the John McLendon Foundation," Amaker said. "Coach McLendon's name is synonymous with education, teaching, service, excellence, and leadership. I am incredibly proud to be associated with his name through this initiative. I cannot think of a better way to honor Coach McLendon's legacy than by providing young minority women and men with a pathway into athletics administration. Through this program, we will make significant progress in increasing diversity in athletics departments throughout the country and will support many more people of color in pursuing their passion."The James Herscot '58 Coach of Excellence, along with University of Kentucky Head Men's Basketball Coach
Jacob Ali-Wertheimer '21, a rising senior on the men's track & field team and the grandson of civil rights activist and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, appeared on MSNBC's Live with Ali Velshi to call on White America to do its part in the fight for civil rights.
"It's time for the people of this nation to step up and demand the change that they want to see. Like I said before, I think African-Americans, we've been doing our part. But I think it's really time for everybody else in this country to really step up, use their voice, and use their action to say enough is enough and justice is long overdue." | WATCH NOW
Former men's basketball captain and recent graduate Seth Towns '20 stepped across Harvard's virtual Commencement stage to the back of a police van in less than 24 hours, and shared a powerful message about the experience across his social media platforms.
"True voice is not found in words spoken, however, but in steps taken. These hurtful times call for us to come together and bend the arc of justice—to be true and fearless in our expression of compassion, we must find ways to be the change we need." | WATCH NOW
Men's basketball recent graduate Justin Bassey '20, inspired by the Op-Ed written by his head coach, Tommy Amaker, penned his own thoughts on 20/20 vision and a path forward for our country.
"2020 marks the first time that I’ve witnessed the typical bystander take a stand. 20/20 vision means that we see you. We see not only blatant racism, but subtle forms of racial inequality as well. We see discrimination across education, health, and opportunity. We see unwillingness to support a hurting population." | READ MORE
Recent graduate Nigel Andrews '20 recently took part in a webinar hosted by CityLax entitled "Breaking Down Walls, One Ground Ball at a Time." Featurig prominent men’s and women’s athletes from the professional, collegiate and high school lacrosse ranks, the webinar provided a forum to discuss the recent racial injustices surrounding the death of George Floyd.
"Looking back on my experience, when I was younger, I was very nonconfrontational,” he said. “I was afraid of being uncomfortable and having those uncomfortable conversations. When people would say things to me like, ‘You’re the whitest black guy,’ those things would hurt me and make me feel upset. Because I was afraid to confront them and be upset, I never said anything.
"My sophomore year of high school, I realized I had to change my ways and be uncomfortable. When I got to college, I made a concerted effort to bring my friends in and have a conversation my freshman year with them and explain to them how my experience was different than theirs." | READ MORE
Chris Egi '18, a former captain of the men's basketball team and the first varsity student-athlete to address his classmates as the undergraduate speaker at Harvard's Commencement, is the founder of No More Names, a youth-led fundraising and awareness building organization created to combat criminal injustice, police brutality, and to empower youth to vote.
In a recent interview with Sportsnet, Chris said that "A big part is just me learning ways to amplify the voices of people who are really in it every day, who are doing great, compelling work on the ground who are spending more time dealing with this issue than I could ever dedicate to it,” says Egi. “They they have the statistics, the research, the connections so, what do I have?
“I have access to these institutions, I have access to privilege, I have access to this platform, so I’m trying to see how I can use that to help what they’re doing, rather than try and recreate the wheel.” | READ MORE
Treavor Scales '13, a former football standout, host of ESPN's SportsCenter on Snapchat, and the host of the 2020 Senior Letterwinners' Dinner, shared a moment of tranparency across his social media channels about how he consumed all that transpired in our country following the death of George Floyd. | WATCH NOW
Women's basketball alumnae Claire Desmond '11, Lindsay Louie '12, and Elise Gordon '14 recently spoke to members of the Camden Catholic girl's basketball team, coached by fellow women's basketball alumna Christine Matera '11, about the state of our country and how we can all positively impact change within our communities.
Andrew Berry '09, a Harvard football alum and the youngest general manager in the NFL, has challenged the Cleveland Browns organization and fan base to create "tangible, meaningful action" around social justice reform.
In an interview with ESPN Berry stated "There are some things that are bigger than football. And I think this is one of those things. To me, this isn't a political issue. This is a human issue. Eradicating racial injustice is something that everyone should be behind." | READ MORE
Chris Lambert '03, a Harvard- and Ivy League- record-holding sprinter, NCAA All-American, and Olympian, published "A Letter To My White Friends" in Esquire.
"Yes, it helps to know a culture if you want to speak on it, but you don’t have to speak for black culture; you have to speak about white culture. You don’t have to march, to write signs, to revolt; you just need to not be silent, and for this you need to know yourselves." | READ MORE
James Blake, the former World No. 4 on the American Tennis Professionals Tour and Harvard standout, published an Op-Ed for USA Today that recalled details from his own experience with police violence.
"When we’re forced to confront tragedies like this — inexplicable demonstrations of cruelty and horror — our tendency is to look for excuses, to find some way to blame the victim. Well, as a human being, I implore you: Please don’t blame the victim. Please imagine this was a loved one. A brother, a son, a father. If you’re black, it could have been you. Hell, on that September day in 2015, it could have been me." | READ MORE
Kayode Owens '92, a football alum and co-founder of Humble Ventures, wrote about how his own personal experience with police brutality stole his light and has affected him every day since in a post on Medium.
"No one can prepare you for a racially biased altercation with the police — even one that ends with you alive. It steals away the magic that makes you special, your light. It’s not the death of a thousand cuts. It’s one big chunk of your soul stolen. One single evening, one altercation, robbed me of my hitherto unshakeable confidence in my own abilities. I ended up beaten and arrested for doing the same thing that hundreds of other students and alumni were doing. Except they didn’t look like me." | READ MORE
Women's soccer alumna and civil rights attorney Cecile Scoon '81 published an Op-Ed for the Panama City Herald voicing optimism for the future of our country and urging people to register to vote.
"Despite my present upset and angst, my hopes for a new America, made in the likeness of the dreams and visions of our national prophet, Dr. Martin L. King, are still aflame in my heart. There have been many times when Whites and Blacks have put race aside, such as our military personnel protecting each other in a firefight at war in Southeast Asia or voting for a Black president." | READ MORE
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