Nick Saban, Alabama athletes hold protest march on campus

AP photo by Gary Cosby Jr. / Alabama football coach Nick Saban leads his team and other student-athletes Monday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as they march to voice their support for social justice.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban led dozens of his football players and other student-athletes on a march to protest social injustice and recent incidents of police brutality against Black men and women.

The group marched the short distance Monday on the school's campus from the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility to Foster Auditorium, where segregationist Gov. George Wallace stood at the door in 1963 trying to block the entry of two Black students.

The Crimson Tide athletes, coaches and staff joined a series of organized events by football players and others in college athletics across the country in the wake of the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake and others.

Such gatherings or marches have been held at colleges including Baylor. Duke, Kansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma, with others planned.

"For certain, we can't let this momentum die," Alabama tailback Najee Harris said. "This has to be an ongoing movement until change happens.

"We must do more as a team and as individuals to keep this movement going."

Harris walked near Saban with a T-shirt reading "Defend Black Lives." Other players held signs with messages such as "Black Lives Matter" and "Stand for something or fall for anything." Another sign read "Until Black Lives Matter" on the front and "All lives can't matter" on the back.

"This is what helped me grow in my role as a leader, to listen to the players, to learn from the players and give them opportunities to do things that could impact social change today," Saban said. "Today I'm like a proud parent.

"I'm proud of our messengers over here, and I'm very proud of the message."

Players Chris Owens and Jarez Parks also spoke, along with athletic director Greg Byrne, university president Stuart R. Bell and John Hooks, chief of the university's police department.

"Equality, that's all we want," said Owens, Alabama's center.