As the men's basketball teams from the University of Georgia and the University of Mississippi prepared to meet at The Pavilion on the University of Mississippi campus about 100 protesters met on Oxford's Square to protest the schools discontinuation of the mascot "Colonel Reb". The University is making a concerted effort to distance itself from Confederate heritage by removing statues and plaques of figures who represented a shameful time in this nation's history.
Inside The Pavilion, eight University of Mississippi basketball players knelt as the national anthem played. At the beginning of the anthem, six player knelt one by one and two more joined their teammates at its ending. The players knelt in a counter protest to the actions of pro-Confederate rally goers.
University of Mississippi basketball players kneel during the playing of the national anthem in counter protest of a pro-Confederate rally not far from the school's campus.
Add eight players from the University of MIssissippi Men's basketball team to the list of countless Black athletes and celebrities who have protested during the national anthem since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee in 2016 as he protested police brutality.
The protest came in response to a pro-Confederate rally which took place about a mile from campus.
After the game head coach Kermit Davis and guard Breein Tyree addressed the media. Davis, who is in his first year as head coach stated prior to the season that his team was "going to be a respectful team that respects the flag and the National Anthem. All those things from culture is what we're about." In light of Saturday's events Davis expressed his support for his players. "This was all about the hate groups that came to our community trying to spread racism and bigotry," Davis said after the game. "It's created a lot of tension for our campus and our players made an emotional decision to show these people they are not welcome on our campus, and I respect our players's freedom and ability to choose that."
Breein Tyree -- who knelt with teammates -- lives on campus and has been exposed to these and other protests as defenders of this heritage have infringed upon the campus. It's safe to say Tyree is tired of it. "We're just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like it's our actual university having these hate groups in our school." Tyree also added that he and his teammates meant no disrespect to men and women in uniform and defensed their reason for the protest via Twitter: "To the people that fight for this country, my teammates and I meant no disrespect to everything that you do for us, but we had to take a stand to the negative things that went on today on our campus. #WeNeedChange".
When combating racism, the only dynamic more angering is when the victims of racism have to defend their stance against it for fear of facing a greater backlash than the actual perpetrators receive. Tyree went on to say the protest was spontaneous, “we saw one of our teammates doing it, and we just didn’t want him to be alone.”
Believe me, you're not.