Duke’s basketball team and members of several other Blue Devil athletic teams led a demonstration outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium where the Krzyzewskiville tent city is erected each basketball season.
The demonstration, in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., was organized by former player and current basketball staff member Nolan Smith. Sophomore Wendell Moore Jr. said last week that he, Smith and some members of the women’s team were planning an event at Duke (see above video).
“Campus [officials] might get mad that we’re out here, but this is necessary,” Smith told the crowd. “Understand that.”
Smith also quoted Coach K, saying, the Hall of Famer often told him, “Leave every place that you go better than when you got there.”
“That’s what I’m here to do,” Smith said. “We all have the power to do that. I can’t change the world, but God damn it, I can change Duke while I’m here.”
Mike Krzyzewski also addressed the group, saying several times, “I’m proud of all of you.”
“This is a time for us all to be on the same team,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve had Zoom calls with over 100 of our former players and managers. We had focus groups to help in fighting systemic racism and social injustice. It’s here. In order to solve a problem, you have to acknowledge it. Today is for all of us to acknowledge this problem, to share our feelings. All of you want to have your feelings and your voices heard. Today, I’d like for you to listen. I’ve listened to my players and to people around the country. We can make a difference. it can start here at Duke.”
Krzyzewski also took action, along with his team.
“As we express our feelings today, there need to be action items for all of us to do. All of you are on teams, and your purpose is not just to compete, not just to talk. It’s to win. We can be on one team—Duke athletics team. Let it spread throughout campus and throughout Durham. The action item my team is going to take is after this event is over, we’re going to register to vote today. We have tables set up for our team, for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. We’re going to register to vote. We’re going to know what it takes to be mail in. The postal service will deliver it. We need to have a display on Duke’s campus where every student is registered to vote and votes.”
Krzyzewski also offered a word of caution.
“By the way,” he said, “everything we do needs to be done in a peaceful manner.”
Several other athletes spoke. Freshman Henry Coleman read an emotional statement, saying, “The tears, the pain, the uncertainty, the feeling of sorrow—it has turned into a feeling of numbness I have yet to even comprehend … This country’s had its knee on the neck of African-Americans for too long. … We will demand change. We will demand justice. We will gain equality. We will be great.”