Before Nebraska’s matchup with Northwestern, Michael Rose-Ivey, DaiShon Neal and Mohamed Barry took a knee during the national anthem. The three were not made available to speak with the media following the game but that changed Monday.
Rose-Ivey addressed the media for the first time during Monday’s weekly press conference, reading from a prepared statement. He touched on why he, Neal and Barry took a knee and what it meant to the three of them.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. sat in the back of the room alongside the media, listening intently to Rose-Ivey deliver his speech. Rose-Ivey elected not to take any non-football related questions after his statement, but later published it to Twitter.
Here is Rose Ivey’s full statement:
My name is Michael Rose-Ivey. I am a student athlete at [the] University of Nebraska. First, I’d like to thank my coach Mike Riley, my teammates and the entire administration of the university for supporting me at this time. Thank you all for being here today.
As everyone is aware, this past Saturday before the game against Northwestern, DaiShon Neal, Mohamed Barry and myself kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and other athletes across the country, both professional and non-professional, who are standing together and using their various platforms to bring awareness about police brutality, and the recent deaths of black men and women at the hands of police officers.
While the anthem played, I prayed, along with DaiShon and Mohamed, and we asked God to watch over us and protect us, to look down on this country with grace and mercy and to look down on us all with grace and mercy. You see, we are not perfect beings but as 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”
As we looked at what’s been going on in this country, the injustices that have been taking place primarily against people of color, we all realized that there is a systematic problem in America that needs to be addressed. We felt it was our duty to step up and join the chorus of athletes in the NFL, WNBA, college and high school using their platforms to highlight these issues. We did this understanding the implications of these actions, but what we didn’t expect was the enormous amount of racially hateful comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others abut the method of protest. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions to it further underscore the need for this protest and give us just a small glimpse into the persistent problems of race in this country and the divisive mentality of some Americans. To make it clear, I am not anti-police, anti-military, nor anti-America. I love my country deeply and appreciate the freedoms it professes to afford me. I have travelled outside of the United States. I have seen how people live in other countries with my own eyes. And though I’ve endured hardships as a kid and didn’t grow up with the whole world in the palm of my hands, as a conscious being, I am able to recognize that there are people out there who are in a much worst positions than I am. I find it very concerning how some of my fellow Americans cannot do the same when it comes to these issues.
Unfortunately, I cannot turn a blind eye to injustice. As Dr. King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” “The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict…an individual who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” So therefore, I believe it is my job, first as a man of faith, which teaches me “for what you do for the least of my brothers, you have done for me” and second as a young black man, who sees people who look like me being unfairly treated, who do not have the platform to let others know about these injustices that go on every single day. I feel obligated to stand up and bring awareness to the social injustices that are not limited to police brutality but also to policies and laws that discriminate against and hinder the growth opportunities of people of color, low income people, women and other marginalized communities.
Again, there are issues in this country that need to be addressed. There are issues in this country that can no longer be pushed off onto the backs of another generation. For me, I look at it like this… do I want me kids to be a part of that and have to ensure the same struggles that we do today? No, I don’t! So it is my job to work to make the world a better place for the next generation. It is disheartening to see that the same social injustices that the lives of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Kind, Malcom X, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Ghandi, WEB DuBois, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Huey P. Newton, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali, amongst others that have spoken out since the birth of this nation. As a young black man, I cannot hide from these realities. As a child of the hope most high, I cannot hide from my responsibilities to be a voice for those who cannot speak loud enough to reach those that can help change their reality or the voices that continue to be ignored or muted.
Those that are continuously told it is their fault that their problems exist, that only if they do better, they will have better. That if you just pull up your pants, etcetera etcetera, you can fill in your own ‘what if.’ But it’s not so simple. It’s not so clear. I can say that with confidence because even though I have done better, even though I am a college graduate, even though I am blessed and fortunate to play football at the highest level and one of the most prestigious schools in college football, even though I am a healthy being and I am fully conscious, I have still endured racism. I was still referred to on Facebook and Twitter as a clueless, confused nigger by former high school classmates, friends, peers and even Husker fans. Some believe DaiShon, Mohamed and myself should be kicked off the football team, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot like the other black people that have died recently. Another believed if we didn’t want to stand for the anthem, we should be hung before the anthem before the next game. These are actual statements we received from fans. People just assume this is just Internet talk but I can tell you from my own experience from this institution and visiting other college campuses over the last four years that racism is a problem that must be addressed. I can’t tell you the numerous amounts of times I’ve heard the N-word shout at teammates and myself from behind opposing benches. Freshman year, I remember going to a frat party and being told niggers aren’t allowed in the house. We were escorted out several minutes later by security officers.
People want athletes like DaiShon, Mohamed and myself to remain silent and just play football. However, we cannot ignore what we’ve lived. We, as black athletes, cannot remain silent. We are fully aware that football consumes only a small part of our lives. As we are often reminded, football will not last forever. These issues are bigger than football. These issues are bigger than me. These issues are bigger than you. These issues are bigger than all of us because it impacts all of us, whether you believe it or not. We must have accountability, we must have understanding, we must have love, but we also must have genuine dialogue that finds genuine solutions and demands genuine action. We must demand that from ourselves and from our family members, we must demand that from our friends, we must demand that from our police officers, we must demand that from our government representatives, we must demand that from everyone in this nation. That is everyone’s role as a conscious human being. I believe we are supposed to look out for one another and call out the injustices in this world against the oppressed, even when you have nothing to gain or you have everything to lose.
America is a great place, despite the ugly blemishes. I love that I am able to wake up and worship my God, without fear of persecution. I love that I am able to express my viewpoint and I am protected by [the] Constitution of the United States. This is what makes America great. But I cannot also ignore these things that keep America divided. I believe in the promise of America, that all men are created equal, have the right to liberty, justice and equality but unfortunately American doesn’t always live up to these ideals. So in the words of James Baldwin, “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” It is my hope that in taking a knee, the consciousness of the entire nation will be raised and everyone will be challenged to truly come together and work towards fairness, equality and justice for all.
We all have an important role. We all have this responsibility.