Northwestern football players show support for student activism

Anthony Walker of Northwestern
Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker. (Lena Blietz/MEDILL)

Story by Shane Monaghan
Video by Lena Blietz

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson said he is proud to attend an institution where students use their voice in an effort to affect change.

“I think it is great that we are at a university where people are concerned about our world, and not just about our bubble at Northwestern,” Thorson said on Tuesday.

Over the past week, Northwestern students have shown solidarity with protests by students and the football team at the University of Missouri against perceived institutional racism.

Because of the significant role the Missouri football team’s boycott played in protests at Missouri — including ouster of Missouri’s president — Thorson, Justin Jackson and Anthony Walker were asked about the significance of athletes supporting campus movements Tuesday at Northwestern football’s media availability. They all talked about their support for students calling for equal rights.

Shows of support for Missouri by Northwestern students included a protest that concluded by interrupting the groundbreaking of a new lakefront athletic facility Friday. Members of the women’s basketball team also displayed support for the Missouri students before their game Sunday. They wrote the words “We Support Mizzou” on their warm-up jerseys with duct tape and markers.

“In light of all that has been happening at UM, we, as a united team, wanted to let those students know that we simply see and care about their pain, and are supporting them through it all,” the women’s basketball team said in a statement released by the athletic department after the game Sunday.

Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips declined to comment on the protests or show of support by the women’s basketball team.

Running back Justin Jackson said that the boycott by the Missouri football team conveys the power that comes with the privilege of being a student-athlete.

“We have a huge platform for our voice to be heard,” said Jackson. “I think doing it through sports is a very powerful tool for movements like this.”

The Northwestern football team was in the media spotlight during the previous two years for its attempts to unionize.

Linebacker Anthony Walker shared advice for teams facing more media coverage in general saying, “Everyone who is thinking about doing anything movement wise just make sure the whole team is on board. Have the support of all of your teammates because you do not want it to be a distraction.”

PHOTO AT TOP: Northwestern Linebacker Anthony Walker. (Lena Blietz/MEDILL)