by Sarah Gianni ’18
Last year Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans. Since then, this form of protest has ignited conversation about race within the athletic sphere, as many athletes have followed Kaepernick’s action.
At Providence College, Wednesday, October 11 marked the kickoff for the first-ever Spirit Week in Friartown, beginning with the men’s soccer game against Brown University at Anderson Stadium. Not only was this the first game of the week leading up to Late Night Madness, but it was also the first time that a group of students demonstrated during the national anthem.
Adriel Antoine ’18, president of the NAACP chapter at PC said, “First and foremost, this demonstration does not aim to disrespect the national anthem, American flag, or our troops.” He continued, “The purpose of this demonstration was to further a conversation about how to fix the issues of racism at PC, and what we can do as a school to address these issues on a national level.”
Antoine said that word was spread to student clubs through group messages, with plans to meet behind Raymond Dining Hall shortly before the game began at 7:00 p.m. “We hoped for as many students to get involved as possible, and encouraged people to spread the word to their friends,” said Antoine.
Between 20 and 30 students participated in taking a knee during the national anthem, congregating in a grassy section of the stadium behind the goalpost. “I often think back to a quote I heard in one of my classes, that racism is like a smog,” said Antoine. “It doesn’t matter how thick or thin it is, it is always there.”
While there are no current plans for another demonstration at any upcoming sporting events, Antoine said he is open to the idea. “I don’t want to make a decision for other people to participate in this action or not,” said Antoine. “However, I believe we need to have continuous conversations—especially at PC—regarding how to address these issues of race on our campus and on a larger scale.”