Student-athletes participate in Black Athletes Lives Matter march

Student-athletes participate in BALM march

Three waves of student-athletes made their way from South Campus to Coyne Stadium on Wednesday.
Published: April 21, 2021
Syracuse Black Athlete Lives Matter March
Syracuse University athletes marched Wednesday from the Skytop fields to the Coyne Stadium where speakers called for unity and building upon social justice efforts.

Many Syracuse University student-athletes gathered together on a cold, snowy afternoon at Coyne Stadium on Wednesday.

“This is so much bigger than the weather,” said women’s rowing senior and SAAC Vice President and Equity Committee Chair Grace Asch. “Today was just so incredible, and I know that it is going to be something that has a lasting impact on a lot of people.”

The first-ever Black Athletes Lives Matter march was organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Equity Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Student-Athlete Board and featured 10 different speakers in three separate waves between noon and 4 p.m.

The goal of the event was to amplify the BALM cause through the joining of Syracuse University student-athletes of all races and backgrounds, according to

“This is not something that just happened,” said Orange cheer senior and DISAB President A.J. Walker. “We as DISAB and even the SACC Equity Committee have been doing things to push change for equity, diversity and inclusion way even before this.”

To adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, small groups of student-athletes marched from South Campus to Coyne Stadium, and each wave began with the virtual performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by track and field alumnus Chevis Armstead and the recitation of the One Orange Creed by Asch.

Syracuse Black Athlete Lives Matter March
Track and field hurdles junior Jamil Adams spoke to his wave of student-athletes during the Black Athletes Lives Matter march on Wednesday.

Speakers of the first wave included Walker, track and field freshman Isaiah Lewis, football senior Chris Elmore and track and field junior Jamil Adams.

The second wave featured track and field sophomore Shaleah “Shay” Colaire, track and field senior Jordan T. Davenport and men’s lacrosse senior Nate McPeak.

And the final speakers of the day were women’s soccer freshman Aysia Cobb and track and field senior and SAAC head secretary Eunice Boateng.

“I don’t think we realize how big this really is,” Boateng said. “This is something that’s really going to be extremely monumental. This has never been done before. Ever.”

In light of Tuesday’s verdict of Derek Chauvin in the trial of George Floyd’s murder, many student-athletes touched on the importance of that moment.

“I don’t consider it as justice, I consider it as accountability,” Davenport said. “Justice is not convicting one police officer while maintaining the system that allows others to abuse their power and continue killing.”

That conversation continued into the post-event press conference as Walker said the verdict elevated the significance of the event.

“The march was about hope and it was about the fact that we can do something to enact change,” Walker said. “And I think the guilty verdict, although it doesn’t show America has solved racism, woohoo, we’re done, it does demonstrate that going out into the streets, fighting for what you want, advocating to your government and raising your concerns and saying, ‘My life is worthy and you need to pay attention,’ that does something, and it evokes change.”

Walker, Asch and Boateng all agreed that the march fell on a perfect day, weather and all.

“I think it kind of was one of those situations where it, kind of, just ended up where it was meant to be,” Asch said. “I’m really grateful for the entire opportunity.”

Avatar for Emily Barnes

is a magazine, news and online graduate student and sports lead producer for The NewsHouse.

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Avatar for Emily Barnes

is a photojournalism major and a contributor for The NewsHouse.