Coach Yo Delivers Powerful Message at Saturday's Ole Miss Unity Walk

Nate Gabler

Ole Miss head women's basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin joined many athletes, members of the athletics department and Oxford community on Saturday during a unity walk supporting equality for African Americans in America.

A few players and leaders of the department shared some words at the end fo the walk, but McPhee-McCuin's words stood out as particularly powerful. Here's what she had to say:

As athletes and as coaches we know how important it is to be believed in. Whether we are cheered on by a sold out stadium or looked up to by one small child – the belief of others in us, their support of us, and their love for us makes a huge difference in the scoreboards that push us to be great. 

We are here today, realizing that a handful of miles, and only a little more than a handful of time cannot just be a photo op.

We, black and white, are the beneficiaries of the struggle for black freedom – a struggle bird generations ago by black people who loved a nation that long considered them at best, second-class citizens. 

And whether through generations of tilling the soil of this state, or through mid-20th century boycotts, sit-ins, or voter registration, generations of black Mississippians sacrificed their own freedoms not. just for Freedom Summer, but for the freedoms we enjoy when as athletes and coaches, we run out onto the gridiron in the fall, when we hit the hardwood in the spring, and when we blaze the track in the summer too.

As athletes and coaches, we who believe in freedom cannot rest on the euphoria of history-making seasons or even championships. 

Banners and rings, while wonderful, do not keep black athlete for coaches, our family and friends, safe from the fear of race-based discrimination. They certainly do not keep us safe from the threat of race-based emotional and physical violence. 

Black sporting achievement, and black coaching achievement, whether as the first or best, regularly but point on a scoreboards across this nation and world. 

Today we gather here to but a point on the scoreboard for justice. Today we gather here in honor of freedom seekers past, in solidarity with those justice seekers present. Today we gather here to say, unapologetically, Black Lives Matter. 

For more on the morning's Unity March, see here. For more from what Ole Miss players and administrators have said over the past few weeks regarding the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustices in America, see this link.

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