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OU football: Justin Broiles delivers a message that is 'simple and clear'

OU's Justin Broiles (25) runs back an interception during last year's spring football game at Owen Field in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
OU's Justin Broiles (25) runs back an interception during last year's spring football game at Owen Field in Norman. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Justin Broiles felt that it was "God's plan" for him to say something.

As Oklahoma City joined the list of cities nationwide with protests last weekend against police brutality after the recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, members of the OU football community used their platform in support of the cause.

Multiple OU players spoke out, including defensive back Chanse Sylvie, who released a plan for police reform on Twitter. Assistant coaches DeMarco Murray, Jamar Cain and Roy Manning, among others, also tweeted out statements condemning discrimination and inequality while promoting unity.

Perhaps the most vocal was Broiles, a redshirt junior safety who was on the frontlines of the protest on Sunday. Donning black Jordan brand shorts, a red T-shirt and a backward baseball cap, Broiles spoke for just over a minute to a crowd of protesters about the importance of education and voting to make change.

“Violence, that’s not the answer. Burning stuff down is not the answer,” Broiles said. “We’ve got to educate ourselves. We’ve got to educate our youth to know that it is important to vote. I didn’t think it was important to vote. Once I got my head right and I paid attention, it started to make sense... It’s our duty to get out and vote. We’re the ones that can change it.”

“Justin's message was placed on his heart at that time, at that moment. His message was simple and clear: ‘Don't destroy our community with looting and rioting, educate ourselves, educate the youth and go vote,’” Broiles’ mom, Tiffany, told The Oklahoman. “That's how we make the change by educating, voting and letting our voices be heard.”

He started his speech to protesters with, “My name is Justin Broiles and I play football for the University of Oklahoma,” immediately highlighting the platform he has. He’s not in public office nor is he a prominent civil rights leader, but Tiffany said it’s important for him to use the platform and credibility he does have as an OU football player to spark the change he wants to see, and that it’s equally important for people to listen and understand.

“Justin has always been a leader. His father and I are extremely proud of him,” Tiffany said. “I think it's very important (for him to use his platform to spark change). Not everyone will agree with them, but they need to listen — not just listen to listen, but listen to hear and understand them.”

Justin Broiles hasn’t always been the activist he was on Sunday, and his mother said he still likely wouldn’t consider himself one. However, Broiles learned to recognize problems in society, and lets his Christian faith motivate him to be a leader when called upon.

“Justin is rooted deep in his faith; he probably wouldn’t call himself an activist. He’s more of a ‘realist’ and understands the challenges he may face in today’s society,” Tiffany said. “On more than one occasion, he’s mentioned this is God’s plan, and he’s going to allow God to use him in every way possible.”

Tiffany said Sunday’s protest was successful, but the fight for justice will continue beyond Sunday.

“The Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday was very peaceful and productive,” Tiffany said. “To see the community come out in force for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others was truly amazing, but the fight for justice didn't end on Sunday. It’s every day.”

Vic Reynolds

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