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ISU athletes lead Black Lives Matter march

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NORMAL (WEEK) - A summer filled with protests nationwide, now Illinois State University athletes bring the Black Lives Matter movement back to campus with them.

After a controversial statement from athletic director Larry Lyons, ISU student athletes saw this as the perfect opportunity to stand for their Black teammates. Several hundred people came out to march through ISU's campus in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This is not a political movement. There are not politics in me wanting my friend to feel safe in this country,” track athlete Luke Nelson said.

During a virtual meeting with student athletes, Lyons said ‘All Redbird Lives Matter’. Students interpreted it as ‘All Lives Matter’, which some feel negates the message 'Black Lives Matter' is trying to send.

"A lot of it was just the hurt of feeling like the administration isn’t behind us. The statement of 'All Redbird Lives Matter' sparked it,” track athlete Kimathi Johnson said.

And students athletes say the movement does not end here. They plan to continue talks with the administration.

“We’re going to try and get in conversation with the administration and talk about the next step,” Johnson said,

Monday, the athletic department released an ‘action plan for social change’, Kimothi Johnson says the next step includes being a part of advising that plan.

“We’re going to work with them on changes and additions to the plan,” Johnson said,

And as for their teammates, they say they will be there to support every step of the way.

“Negligence is an enemy of the movement. The whole movement is trying to raise those voices who are having issues, so ignoring it is the issue,” Nelson said.

ISU athletes say it is a long road to change, but they plan on holding more marches and continue working with administration until that change happens.

Gabi Guerrero

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