Initiative supports Black athletes and pushes for change
By Coleman Cornelius
Published July 10, 2020
CSU football player A’Jon Vivens addressed teammates as they recently rallied for change with coaches and staff in Old Town Fort Collins. Photo: CSU Athletics
Lasting societal change begins with actions big and small: earning a degree as a start to professional leadership, calling out a racist joke, joining a challenging conversation – and listening.
These and other concrete steps toward racial equity are the aim of the Together Initiative, launched in early June by Colorado State University Athletics and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The initiative arose as part of nationwide protests against police brutality and a new wave of urgent calls for the dismantling of systemic racism, ignited by the death of George Floyd in late May; the Black man was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. The incident, and subsequent demands for change, amplifies the crisis wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Right now is the time to stand up,” the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee proclaims on the Together Initiative website. “In order for our community to genuinely grow, we cannot be non-racist. We must actively seek to be anti-racist.”
The proclamation is signed by hundreds of people in CSU Athletics and the broader campus community – including coaches, student-athletes, administrators, and support staff – who publicly commit to more than 20 actions essential to righting longstanding injustice. Those endorsing the project represent different generations and races, a notable aspect of the Black Lives Matter movement invigorated this summer.
“I am proud of our students and staff for their involvement. Everyone recognizes that meaningful change requires consistent, ongoing effort,” Athletics Director Joe Parker said.
The actions are meant to be ongoing – not a one-and-done checklist – and to have a cumulative effect, said Albert Bimper Jr., an associate professor of ethnic studies who also is assistant vice president for CSU Student Affairs and leader of Student-Athlete Support Services. “The ideas came from conversations with students and staff asking, ‘What do I do? What can we do?’ We’re trying to find better answers than, ‘dialogue.’ This is a starting point. Let’s add to it,” Bimper said.
“For Colorado State Athletics, ‘together’ will be a word that drives change,” the initiative’s introduction explains. “Together, our commitment to our student-athletes, our university, and our community will grow. We will apply actions to our words, and we will remain steadfast in our belief that all people should be treated as equals – together.”
THE TOGETHER INITIATIVE
What can we all do together?
Attend and speak at public meetings.
Run for an open leadership position.
Host thought-provoking book readings and discussions.
Organize small-business support days.
Organize a conversation with law enforcement.
Organize a conversation to discuss systemic injustices.
Vote in your state and national elections.
Host a letter-writing event to your elected officials.
Meet with organizations to learn about their stories, their concerns, and their strategies of engaged citizenship.
Organize and mobilize residents to vote.
Write your own book. Read it to others.
Write your own song. Sing it to others.
Take a class on public speaking. Practice with others.
Meet with civic leaders to discuss the structural design of our criminal justice system.
Correct the narratives that leave out the robust truth.
Learn the story of someone different from you.
March. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Use your voice to speak for the unheard.
Understand that we cannot all play the same role in our collective revolution for change, but we all have a role to play.
Say their names. It can’t be just about today. It must be about every day – together.