Four Central Michigan football players raise fists during National Anthem


Junior defensive backs Ray Golden and Emmett Thomas, freshman defensive back Marcel Ray and junior linebacker Tyree Waller raise their fists during the National Anthem before the Central Michigan football team's win over Ball State last Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo)

Before last Saturday’s 24-21 win against Ball State, several Central Michigan football players raised their fists during the playing of the national anthem in protest of social injustices around the country.

Junior defensive backs Ray Golden and Emmett Thomas, freshman defensive back Marcel Ray and junior linebacker Tyree Waller all made the decision before the game to peacefully protest during the national anthem.

Golden began raising his fist three weeks ago and the other players decided to join him during Saturday's game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

Golden said the purpose of raising their fists in the air is to bring awareness to the issue of racial discrimination. 

“What that meant to us was highlighting issues that are going on in our country,” he said. “In light of the recent events, we wanted to bring awareness to social injustice and show our fellow Americans that we’re with them and we want to highlight change.”

Professional and collegiate athletes around the U.S. have participated in similar protests during the national anthem recently.

Most notably, San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting social injustice during the national anthem by kneeling during the song before an NFL preseason game.  

These protests come in response to numerous police-involved shootings of minorities across the country in recent months.

“I really want to express that I don’t support what’s going on in our country right now, and (I am) supporting the Black Lives Matter movement,” Waller said. “I think police should stop killing unarmed black men.”

Saturday’s decision by the four Chippewas was a collective one. 

The players were unsure if their coaches were aware of their protest. Golden said he would have still gone through with it had his coaches not approved.

“The message is simply standing up for what we believe in, in a peaceful way,” he said. “In a way that causes awareness, but it’s least disruptive in a negative sense. What we’re doing is highlighting the issue.”

Thomas said he believes the fact that he and his teammates are Division I football players will help spread awareness. 

“I put (my fist) up for justice and for everything that’s going on,” Thomas said. “I think this will help get the word out.”

Golden said he will continue to raise his first in the air during the national anthem.

The Chippewas play at Northern Illinois at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.