Chris Elmore acted on his leadership role for the Syracuse University football team during the Black Athletes Lives Matter march Wednesday at SU’s Coyne Stadium.
Elmore was among the hundreds of SU athletes of varying races and backgrounds that took part in the march with the goal of promoting the message of Black Lives Matter, empowering Black student-athletes, and educating all their peers in attendance.
The rally spanned almost three hours overall and featured nearly a dozen SU athletes speaking at a podium to represent their respective teams and surrounding communities. The unexpected snow showers and temperatures in the low-mid 30’s did little to dampen their spirit.
Athletes spoke on behalf of the women’s soccer, men’s and women’s track and field, cheer, and football programs, while other teams filed into the rally in waves with signs of support. Athletes all wore T-shirts with the phrase “One Orange,” on the front, which were designed to promote unity.
Those who took the podium shared personal stories about experiencing racism in their daily lives on campus or altercations with law enforcement. They read poems, shared inspirational quotes, recited messages of hope and unity, and urged a continued fight for justice and racial equality.
Syracuse men’s track and field alumnus, Chevis Armstead, virtually performed the song: “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” for the event.
Elmore spoke briefly and said he was doing so on behalf of the football team, which took part specifically to raise their voice against incidents of police brutality.
The senior fullback shared personal stories of two family members who died from being choked by police officers, he said, in separate incidents in his native Chicago. Elmore said that his cousin and her son were each victims, one of which died at a police station with video of the incident that he has seen.
“It’s horrifying, experiencing things like that as a Black male is scary because we see the stories every day where a regular traffic stop can end in a tragedy,” Elmore said. “Growing up, having to look over my shoulder for police, gang violence, everything like that took a toll on me but coming to college, it definitely helped me have a broader experience on things.”
The SU BALM march was organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s (SACC) Equity Committee along with SU’s Diversity and Inclusion Student-Athlete Board (DISAB).
Teams filed onto the field at Coyne in periodical waves to listen to a series of speakers then departed before the next group moved into the area. They were spaced apart during the rally and filtered in and out due to COVID-19 precautions.
The entire march was streamed live on the official SU athletics website, cuse.com, and a free replay of the rally is available through the website’s on-demand video service.