DANVILLE — Marcus Forrest and Durrell Robinson want change and are doing their part by speaking out and leading by example, in hopes of a better world. Both guys know they have a big influence on the next generation and the athletes they coach. They also know the need for justice and equality for black men and women is long overdue, yet once again in the spotlight following the death of George Floyd. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is in custody, accused of second degree murder and manslaughter, after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes last week.
“It’s a tough situation but it brings people together and Mr. Floyd losing his life has brought a country and really a world together, coming together for the same cause,” Forrest said.
Going into his fourth year leading the football program, Forrest has conversations with his athletes about race, prejudice, police encounters and handling situations routinely. For him, learning about life is just as important as anything that happens on the field. That’s why Forrest was happy to see several of his players march in a Danville protest earlier this week.
“You know I look at here in Danville when we had the march, one of the most things I was most proud of was the fact that there was black people, white people, Hispanic people, Asian people, men, women, children, officers, everybody walking together being peaceful,” Forrest said.
For Robinson, seeing Floyd’s death hurt. While working as a pro basketball coach in St. Louis, he visited the site where Mike Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Robinson also previously lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and knows some of Terence Crutcher’s family members. He was unarmed when shot and killed by an officer. Now in his role as the boys’ basketball coach for the Vikings, Robinson has a platform in his community.
“Everything has been adding up,” Robinson said. “It’s been too consistent where we’ve been losing a lot of our black men to this type of brutality and it’s even been caught on camera. As we all know, the biggest thing is serving justice. Until justice is served, there’s nothing that’s going to be changed. There’s got to be an accountability with it. What I’ve been really loving is the way we’ve been able to peacefully march, even here in Danville, and I like the way Champaign bounced back after their situation, they decided to march the next day.”
“And a beautiful time and it shows that we can all come together and work together and when we do, changes do happen,” added Forrest.