“Senior running back Najee Harris walked next to Saban wearing a T-shirt reading, ‘Defend Black Lives; racial solidarity against this corrupt system.’ Other players walked behind Saban holding a banner reading, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ The march was also advertised on social media over the weekend by players with the hashtag #BLM.”
Saban addressed the crowd at the end of the march, likening his emotions to that of a “proud parent.”
“Today I’m like a proud parent,” Saban said at the end of the march. “I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of our messengers over here and I’m very proud of the message. I’m very proud of the ’All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter’ video that we did early on that I think had a very positive impact. That was something we did together as a team.
“This is something that the team decided to do together as a team, so I’m very proud and supportive of what they are trying to say, and in a peaceful and intelligent way. I’m very pleased to be here today.”
Speaking in front of the same schoolhouse door that was once darkened by Democratic Governor George Wallace when he attempted to thwart federal desegregation efforts in 1963, Saban said that sports has always been a “platform for social change.”
“Sports has always created a platform for social change,” Saban said. “For each of us involved in sports, I think we have a responsibility and obligation to do that in a responsible way and use our platform in a positive way to try to create social change in positive ways.
“Through this process, I’ve learned a lot from our players. I don’t get to see the world through the same lens that a lot of our players do. I think I respect and appreciate the lens they see the world in and they live the world in. We had various speakers that I think contributed that education as well, whether it was Condoleezza Rice, Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, Joey Galloway, Tony Dungy. All those people had an interesting way that we could all make positive change.
“So this is what helped me grow in my role as a leader: to listen to the players, to learn from the players and to give them the opportunity to do things that could impact social change today.”
Several players addressed the crowd as well, including Najee Davis and Greg Byrne. Alabama joins Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, and several other schools, in making social justice statements after the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake.