The Kentucky Football program made me proud today, and I’m sure they did the same for most of the people reading this post right now.
On Friday afternoon – on what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday – Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, along with associate head coach Vince Marrow, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, and the football student-athletes collectively marched through downtown Lexington to protest the racial injustices in the United States.
During a time when some of his peers have remained silent, Stoops made sure to make a direct statement, something he doesn’t normally do. He was adamant about his decision to support the Black Lives Matter movement. As a person who is entrusted with the lives of mostly young black men, he understood his responsibility to step up and make his voice heard. For Stoops, this wasn’t a tough choice. Some have tried to come out and argue that Stoops made a hard decision when he elected to march, but that’s nonsense. He didn’t know any other way to go about this. Standing up for what is right should never be classified as a tough decision.
“We’re here to fight racism, to bring awareness, and to do our part,” Stoops told the media shortly after the march. “I think most of you know me, I keep things pretty tight to the vest with the media, but there’s no more of that on this issue. Everybody needs to get off the bench and make a difference, stand for something. We’re not going to tolerate any more racism and social problems. We want to make a difference and be a part of the solution. That’s why we’re here.”
On Friday evening, Stoops released a statement via his social media:
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) June 6, 2020
This afternoon, our team marched to the courthouse with two goals in mind – to show our support in the fight against racism and injustice and how to take steps to bring progress in our nation. One of those steps is to participate in our elections by registering to vote, which we will encourage our players to do when registration is open.
As a team, we stand together as a strong voice and renewed commitment to education, respect, unity, and positive, peaceful change.
We thank Mayor Gorton, city officials and police officers for joining us in our walk and thank all who stand with us.
#Black Live Matter
The outpouring of support following the march has come in all shapes and forms. Current and former players along with fans from all areas (even Louisville fans!) were quick to express their support for Stoops and the program. Just type Mark Stoops into the Twitter machine and see how many anti-UK fans start their comment by saying “Normally I hate UK, but…”
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) June 6, 2020
— DeAndre Square (@d_square10) June 6, 2020
A real head coach! ?? https://t.co/p5klZDpmgD
— Joshua Paschal (@JPaschalx) June 6, 2020
Love my coach ??
— Clevan Thomas (@aborn_star) June 5, 2020
— MONT? (@AMont17) June 6, 2020
Some of the realest ? I’ve ever heard come out of his mouth. Prada Big Blue for this one. ?? https://t.co/qv66YaQoEi
— Blake Bone (@GhostGot6) June 5, 2020
@FSUFootball thanks for picking the wrong guy.
— Matt Wagner (@MattWagner23) June 5, 2020
This is what a real leader of young men looks like. Stoops and Marrow aren’t just football coaches, they are people that fight for what they believe in. Simply put, they get it. And I couldn’t be happier that they represent the University of Kentucky.