Trae Young, the Atlanta Hawks’ young point guard, spoke at a peaceful protest in his hometown of Norman, Okla. on Monday. The 21-year-old carried a sign, chanted with the crowd, and then stepped to the microphone to address those who had assembled. The protest is just one of many that have taken place around the country in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody and the larger issues of racism in law enforcement.
Young, wearing a black bandana and sunglasses, admitted that he’s not used to speaking in front of crowds, but he pushed through his discomfort and offered a message of unity and strength.
“I’m not used to doing this,” Young said at the start of his remarks. “I’m not very open about what I see or the things that go on in this world very often, but for me, even though I’m just 21 years old, I feel that it was necessary. This is bigger than me, and I feel like this is a big step in the right direction.”
With his parents and sister Caitlyn watching in the crowd, Young continued.
Trae Young’s speech at the Norman rally. pic.twitter.com/yNcLgdz32R— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) June 1, 2020
“I grew up here in Norman, everywhere I go I try to represent this city the best I can. I know this country is in a messed up place right now. And for me, I just think it’s important that we all stick together and stand up for what’s right. It’s not just going to take just me. It’s not just going to take just you. It’s all of us coming together and doing this as a collective unit. I feel like justice will be served and changes will be made if we all come together. This is us doing it. This is the first step.
“I’m happy that everyone came out today. I’m proud to be here. I’m proud to be from Norman, Oklahoma. I grew up here, and so for me, I didn’t want to come up here and talk too much. But I pray every day that justice will be served for George and his family. Not just him, but hundreds and hundreds of people. Breonna Taylor. It’s gotta change. So thank you guys for letting me talk, and I just want to say: no justice, no peace.”
Young advertised the peaceful protest on his Twitter account on Monday, where he also thanked his sister Caitlyn for being so “powerful.” Caitlyn, a strategic communications junior at TCU who is double minoring in religion and comparative and race ethnic studies, has a close relationship with her brother. She spoke to the Norman Transcript on Monday about having some tough conversations with Trae.
“We’ve definitely had conversations where the basis of a lot of his thoughts and opinions can be flawed or misconstrued,” Caitlyn told the Norman Transcript. “So, we go into conversations of, maybe if you looked at it from a different perspective, or if you talk about it a different kind of way it might be more productive and mindsets can be changed and more useful, especially considering the platform he has.”
Young seems to have taken her words to heart, and is ready to use his platform to incite change.
“It’s not about me today. I’m not a celebrity,” Trae told the Norman Transcript after he finished his remarks. “I’m here to be a leader, supportive. I’m here to make change. I didn’t want to come here today and it be about me. It’s about everybody. It’s about everybody that’s been a victim to this. I just want to be supportive to my Norman community and try to make change.”
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