Henry Coleman on Duke's On-Campus Protest Rally

ShawnKrest

Duke’s Nolan Smith helped organize an on-campus protest rally for student athletes last week, in support of Black Lives Matter. Several people spoke, including Mike Krzyzewski and women’s coach Kara Lawson. The most emotional speech, however, came from freshman Henry Coleman III, who fought back tears as he discussed his experiences.

“I thought it was an unbelievable job by Coach K and coach Nolan, what they had set up, but I was just moved to speak for the people that didn’t have a voice,” Coleman said. “My parents told me always just to use my platform. I built this platform. They would always tell me, ‘You wouldn’t build a house and not sleep in it,’ so I just have to use this platform to continue to talk.”

As Coleman read his speech, his teammates gathered around him, in a show of solidarity and support.

“It was not planned,” he said of the team demonstration. “I think that was just those guys being my brothers, being with me. It almost felt like a security blanket.”

Krzyzewski has taken on a very public role in supporting the BLM movement, with online videos and his appearance at the rally.

“Coach K is a guy who is super open,” Coleman said. “He’s always willing to accept change and be with his players. He tells us every day that he loves us and that he’s thankful for us. I just think it’s that common bond that we share with Coach, that he’s almost like a father figure to a lot of us, that he helps us with a lot of different things on and off the court. Then with coach Smith, he’s just a guy that’s super relatable. I’m always able to talk to him and bounce ideas off of him, whether that be sports, shoes or the protests. He’s a great guy.”

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