Dabo Swinney
Trevor Lawrence
Darien Rencher
Amazing Grace
Clemson Football

Dabo Swinney: "There are certain things that we should no longer glorify, or honor"

June 14, 2020

A crowd of roughly 3,000 students, athletes, faculty members, staff, and fans joined The Clemson Community Peaceful Demonstration and March for Change yesterday afternoon on Bowman Field. The event, organized by Darien Rencher, Trevor Lawrence, Mike Jones Jr. and Cornell Powell, was an opportunity for several of Clemson’s most notable names to be heard.

After opening remarks, the crowd took a knee for 8:46 to honor the passing of George Floyd and to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement, seeking equality and justice for individuals of color in our world. 

One student who spoke, a rising senior, Joscelyn Behlin, stated during her speech, “What is a Tiger without its beautiful black stripes?” leading to a chorus of cheers.

Later, after a peaceful march, Lawrence, Rencher, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had several thoughts to share with the crowd. 

“The past few weeks. I’ve been uncomfortable. That word uncomfortable will be an important one in all of our steps in our journey to bring equality. I’ve learned that every truly good thing in life comes from being brave and stepping into the uncomfortable,” Trevor Lawrence said. “It’s uncomfortable to set aside everything I know about America, and listen to someone else’s perspective; however, it’s necessary.”

Lawrence reflected on how his experience has been different from many of his teammates, and that he would use his platform to make a difference.

“Recently, I’ve realized that the America that I experience is different from the America that my

“I'm on the journey now of discovering how I can use my voice, platform, and influence, to lift others up and stand for those who shouldn't have to stand alone."
- Trevor Lawrence

brothers and sisters experience. I’m on the journey now of discovering how I can use my voice, platform, and influence, to lift others up and stand for those who shouldn’t have to stand alone,” Lawrence said.

“As I stand here, I don’t want to paint the picture that change hasn’t happened. So I honor those brave men and women that took those steps, years ago, our parents, our grandparents, all those that have gone before us,” Rencher noted. 

“Change to me is the process and the end results. So I say we’ve made steps, but we all know there’s work to be done. And honestly, I understand why a lot of people feel overwhelmed right now-- so frustrated. It seems hard to agree on anything. An argument awaits at almost every turn. We try to explain our beliefs. Even making a simple statement like Black Lives Matter causes the defenses to rise up. Our country seems like it’s in flames because of a lot of rage disappointment, just like disbelief, of the evil we’ve all seen on our phones. And honestly, it just feels helpless like there’s no way forward sometimes. But I find myself here with hope. Because I’m seeing all the good that’s already coming on all this madness and tragedy. Like this special moment right here as I look across Bowman Field.” 

Swinney’s focus began with the leadership that he’s seen from his team during these tumultuous times.

“They love together. There is no perfect place and there are no perfect people,” Swinney said. “But I will tell you this if I could bottle up what I’ve seen in our program the last decade, and distributed to everyone this world would instantly be better.”

Swinney mentioned that his team was untied and would continue to “be a light in the darkness, and to continue to lead.”

© Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson players K.J. Henry, Darien Rencher, Cornell Powell, and Jordan Williams march during yesterday’s peaceful protest in Clemson. Rencher carries the same “‘matter’ is the minimum” sign South Carolina quarterback Jay Urich used during the Gamecocks’ team demonstration. Urich sent the sigh to Rencher for Clemson’s march.

While there have been many detractors for the Black Lives Matter movement, Swinney said he stands with his team. 

“I know they need me. I stand with them, and we’ll do all I can to help them unify people and create positive change that they seek. This team is blessed with incredible leadership. I have always said the best leadership comes from within. This team has incredible leadership.”

Swinney said that he was proud of his players for pulling the march together and that they chose to be a part of Clemson University.

“I’m incredibly proud of this group. So proud of what I’ve been able to see them do. And I’m so thankful that they chose me as their head coach, and I’m thankful that they chose to come to Clemson.”

“We can't change history, but we can learn from it and there are certain things that we should no longer glorify, or honor, or celebrate-- in this year of 2020."
- Dabo Swinney

Some people, including Tiger fans, have also been vehemently against the renaming of Clemson University’s Honors College and possibly restoring Tillman Hall to its original name, but the two-time national championship-winning head coach said that while history cannot be changed, but glorifying it can be.

“We must understand, we must learn, and we must listen. To understand, we have to put the effort forth to learn. And to learn, we have to listen,” Swinney noted. “We can’t change history, but we can learn from it, and there are certain things that we should no longer glorify, or honor, or celebrate-- in this year of 2020.”

Swinney went on to mention two former Tigers who were both vocal about the petition to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from the Honors College, Nuk Hopkins, and Deshaun Watson. 

“Nuk Hopkins will always be remembered for his amazing career and fourth-and-16. Deshaun Watson will always be remembered for his fearless leadership and how he led us to our first National Championship in 35 years,” Swinney said.

He then carried his thoughts further, imploring Tiger fans to understand why these changes are so important to the school, football team, and community. 

“They both brought us a lot of joy-- a lot of joy to Clemson. We should no longer expect them, or our players to hear our cheers if we do not hear their cries.”

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Dabo Swinney: "There are certain things that we should no longer glorify, or honor"

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