Swinney delivers poignant message on perfect vision for battling injustice
|Sunday, June 14, 2020, 9:53 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Head coach Dabo Swinney stepped to the podium Saturday evening on Bowman Field and said that entire world has been put on pause in 2020 in order to have perfect vision in battling racial inequality.
Swinney participated in the day’s peaceful demonstration, led by four of his players – running back Darien Rencher, linebacker Mike Jones, Jr., wide receiver Cornell Powell, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
As the marchers returned to Bowman for final remarks, Swinney stepped on stage to deliver a few remarks before introducing Rencher and Lawrence. His remarks were poignant.
“Clemson is a special place, and we saw why that is again today. This is a historic time and a challenging time. But as I tell my team all the time, challenge is what creates change,” Swinney said. “I believe with all my heart that God stopped the world in 2020 so we would have perfect vision and clearly see the social and racial injustices and changes that need to occur in our society.
“Nobody, nobody, should feel less or be treated as less because of the color of their skin. God loves every single one of us the same. Black lives more than matter. Black lives significantly matter and equally matter. And for far too long that has not been the case in the black community. Now is the time to push for equal justice and no longer tolerate police brutality or racism of any kind in this country.”
Swinney said change won’t occur without unity.
“But as you saw today and moving forward, it has to be everyone's responsibility, not just some people's responsibility, it has to be everybody's responsibility to be more aware and to learn and to speak out against racial inequality,” he said. “United we stand, divided we fall. To move forward and to make this world and country better we have to find a way to do this, to unify and bring people together, and to do that we must bring people together, and to do that we need to speed love and forgiveness and grace. Lots of love and forgiveness and grace. We have to be able to disagree but not be disagreeable. We have to understand that people are not perfect and go through things differently, but I believe that the majority of the people in this country are reasonable people and will work together to unify. There is no hope for a better yesterday or a better last year or a better 200 years. But there is hope in the future, and that is because of my faith in Jesus Christ. And because of that, I believe the best is yet to come.”
Swinney went on to say that the country needs to have a spiritual awakening as well.
“It is also my hope that during this time we have a spiritual awakening in our country because I believe that is where true heart change takes place. But first, we must understand and we must learn and we must listen,” he said. “We can't change history, but we can learn from it, and there are certain things that we should no longer honor, glorify, or celebrate in this year of 2020.”
Swinney alluded to Friday’s announcement by the Board of Trustees that they would remove the name of John C. Calhoun from the Honors College and would also ask the state’s general assembly to change the name of Tillman Hall back to its original name.
It was at that moment that he delivered the most powerful line of the night while showing support for former wide receiver Nuk Hopkins and Deshaun Watson, who spoke out publicly about changing the Honors College name.
“And I am embarrassed to say that there are things on this campus that I didn't really understand. I knew the basics but not the details, but I've learned and I've listened,” Swinney said. “Two of our best players had the courage to speak out, along with so many beautiful students on this campus, about their concerns and their feelings about buildings on this campus Nuk Hopkins will always be remembered for his amazing career and 4th-and-16, and Deshaun Watson will always be remembered for his fearless leadership and how he led us to our first National Championship in 35 years. They both brought us a lot of joy, a lot of joy to Clemson, but we should no longer expect them, or our players, to hear our cheers if we do not hear their cries.”
Swinney finished by saying his team is unified and he hopes it will help lead the way.
“I always tell our team that you have to create change from the inside out. And if we want the world to change the world around us we have to do what is right for Clemson,” Swinney said. “I greatly appreciate the leadership of the Board (of Trustees) and the President for the actions, not the talk, but the actions that they took yesterday. But I also hope that those who have the power to change building names will hear the cries of those they once cheered for and the cries of all these beautiful Clemson students, black and white because that is what I see out here today. I have often said there is nothing the world needs more than a football team.
“To be honest, I would like to go to Congress and dress them out in pads and helmets and put them through a little PAW drill, an inside drill, the Oklahoma drill. But I have loved seeing young men become best friends because of this game. They laugh, they bleed, and they battle together, but most of all they love together. There is no perfect place and there are no perfect people, but if I could bottle up what I've seen in this program the last decade, our world would be a better place. Our team loves each other, and they are unified, and they will continue to be a light in the darkness.”