Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey made an impassioned speech Monday regarding his decision to kneel during the national anthem before Saturday's game.
Rose-Ivey explained why he felt the duty to speak out for racial injustice and drew on his own experiences with racism, both before and after the protest Saturday, and more.
Both of the other Huskers who kneeled before the game — Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal — also spoke Wednesday. Barry said he's received "way more positive" feedback from Husker fans thus far than negative.
"Like 15 positives to the negative," Barry said. "Our fans, they agree with it, they see the injustice, and for the most part they support us.
Watch the full video from Rose-Ivey's lengthy statement, and read the complete transcript below:
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First off, I want to say my name is Michael Rose-Ivey. I am a student-athlete at the University of Nebraska. First of all, I want to thank Coach (Mike) Riley, the administration, this university for allowing me to step out and speak on my beliefs on my own behalf. I want to thank you guys for being here to listen to me.
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 many other athletes across the country, both professional and non-professional, who are standing together to use 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 all of us with grace and mercy. You see, we are not perfect beings, but as 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, "Not that we are sufficient in our own selves 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 systemic 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 hateful, racially-motivated comments we received from friends, peers, fans, members of the media and others about the method of protest. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions further underscore the need for this protest and gives us just a small glimpse into the persistent problem of racism in this country and the divisive mentality of some Americans.
To make it clear, I am not anti-police, I am not anti-military, nor am I anti-American. I love my country deeply and I appreciate the freedoms it professes to afford me.
I have traveled outside of the United States, and I have seen how people live in other countries. I have seen it with my own eyes. And even though I have endured hardships as a kid, and didn't grow up with the 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 worse position than I am. I find it very concerning how some of my fellow Americans cannot do the same when it comes to the issues we are talking about today.
Unfortunately, I cannot turn a blind eye to injustice. As Dr. (Martin Luther) 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 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 secondly, 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 I am obligated to stand up and bring awareness to the social injustices that are not limited to police brutality but also to the policies and laws that discriminage against and hinder the growth and 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 my kids to be a part of this and have to endure the same struggles that those came before me had to? No, I don't. So it is my job to work to make this world a better place for the next generation.
It is disheartening to see the same social injustices that the likes of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Ghandi, W.E.B. DuBois, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall, Marcus Garvey, Huey P. Newton, Maya Angelou, Jackie Robinson and Muahamad Ali, amongst others, have spoken out about since the birth of this nation.
As a young black man, I cannot hide from these relaities. As a child of the 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 who are continuously told it is their fault that their problems exist, that only if they do better, then they will have better. That if you just pull up your pants, etc., 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 college football at the highest level and at one of the most prestigious schools in college football, even though I am a healthy being and even though I am fully conscious, I have still endured racism.
I was still referred to (on) Facebook and Twitter as a "clueless, confused n-----" by former high school classmates, friends, peers and even Husker fans. Some believed DaiShon, Mohamed and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot just like the other black people that have died recently. Another believed that since we didn't want to stand for the anthem, we should be hung before the anthem for the next game. These are actual statements we received from fans. People assume this is just Internet talk, but I can tell you from my own experience at this very institution and visiting other college campuses within the past four years that racism is still a problem that must be addressed. I can't tell you the numerous amount of times I've heard the N-word being shouted at my teammates and I from opposing fans from behind our bench. My freshman year, I can remember going to a frat party and was told that "n-----s are not allowed in this 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 the lives that 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 doesn't 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, genuine solutions and demand genuine action. We must demand that from ourselves. We must demand that from our family members. We must demand that from our friends. We must demand that from our schools. 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 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 and 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 those things that keep America divided. I believe in the promise of America, that tell me all men are created equal, and have the right of liberty, justice and equality. But unfortunately, America doesn't always live up to those 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 toward fairness, equality and justice for all.
We all have an important role. We all have that responsibility.