Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence appeared as one of the college’s leading voices for social justice reform at the time, but said on Tuesday that he did not envision himself as an activist.
Lawrence was the biggest name – if not always the biggest contributor, he noted – among college athletes who find a voice on off-field issues. He helped organize a student protest against police brutality in June, prompted the voices of student-athletes as school presidents decided in August whether to play one season, and contributed to the recent #OurVoiceMatters movement tackling racism.
It is a role that Lawrence said he has supported his teammates, but wants to avoid the political collusion that often comes with attitude.
“I am not a civil rights activist or an activist in general,” Lawrence said Tuesday. “I just believe that we all have a responsibility based on who you are and what your platform is. For the love of my compatriots and friends, family, everyone I know, I think it is part of my responsibility to try to help with any way I can …
“I know there are a lot of eyes on me. Critics, but also a lot of new generations looking at me, that’s why I know. I want to use my platform in the right way and try to influence people.” I am not an activist of any kind, but I think I have a responsibility to promote equality and help the people I love. “
The #OurVoiceMatters statement was created by more than two dozen current college athletes, Lawrence said, including teammates Darien Ranger and Cornell Powell, as well as Oregon According to Sewell and Kayvon Thibodeaux, including. Lawrence described the demands, which included time allowed athletes to vote, community outreach programs and awareness of the days of the game through t-shirts, helmets and decals, as steps we “already had to take” to bring about change.
Lawrence said the team of athletes working on the statement represented many different views, but the swift and concise action taken provided a plan for others to make progress.
“Through all of this, we just tried to say, ‘I know we have some differences, but let’s try to find some things that we all agree on’ and how we start to change from there,” Lawrence said. “I think it’s strong that we managed to make decisions very quickly as a team from all over the country to make things happen. That’s where you have to start, it’s to find common ground and understand the differences between people, but you leave room for people. to learn and change their mind and maybe say, “I thought so before, but I have changed my mind.”
“We want to create a situation where people can grow. We do not want to pressure people to change at the same time. But I think we can all agree that the country is not in a great place right now. There is a lot of room for growth.”
Many of the same players who worked on the #OurVoiceMatters statement also created a social media boost to allow them to play this season as school presidents across the country met to discuss the sustainability of the 2020 season. Lawrence, in particular, made headlines when President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that Mr. Clemson had called the White House to discuss the need for college football this season.
Nevertheless, Lawrence said he hoped to avoid politicizing his statements.
“I never want to use him as a political pawn,” Lawrence said. “I want to see the progress of all people. I want people to be equal. That’s where I stand, so I felt some of the things I did were the best way I could support my teammates. They’re not like me.” on one side of the policy or on the other. I just love my teammates and I love my friends and I see that they hurt, so how can I support them emotionally and publicly? “
As a team, Lawrence said Clemson has a lot of work to do to show his drive for social justice this season, some of which he said would be obvious when the Tigers open the season on Saturday against Wake Forest.
Lawrence joked that “so much has happened” this off-season, but said he is in a much better place now than he was a year ago entering the season fresh from a national league. Lawrence spoke openly last year about how the pressure of a repeat show hit him in early 2019, but said he felt fully prepared for the season.
“We are in a very good place,” Lawrence said. “A lot has been done, but now we can really focus on football. Obviously we have these other things we want to do on the line, but I think we have all decided as a team that it is time to play.”