Recent protests over the murders of unarmed black men and women have been led by prominent athletes across the country. NBA players Jaylen Brown, Stephen Curry and Juan Toscano-Anderson have been outspoken supporters of social change and organized protests in their respective communities.
Tampa now has one of its own in the form of USF football’s KJ Sails, who is organizing a “unifying walk” Saturday at noon in downtown Tampa.
Sails, an outspoken member of the community with aspirations of becoming a future Tampa mayor, wants to “do his part to shed light on the injustices within the black community,” according to a message he wrote Thursday on Twitter.
“Often times sports is the great unifier so it is important to me that the entire Tampa Bay athletic community comes together to walk with me as we fight for justice and equality for MY African American community,” Sails wrote.
“ As athletes we are pressured to keep our mouths closed and opinions unspoken” I will not stay quiet and you shouldn’t either ! Be a leader and demand change! I challenge you all to take a stand Together ✊🏿✊🏻✊🏾✊🏼✊🏽✊🏻 pic.twitter.com/eyWKgGXFMu
— KJ Sails 9⃣‼️ (@KJ2LiVE) June 4, 2020
Sails’ message was an open call to not only members of the USF athletics community, but also athletic members of the University of Tampa, local youth programs and high schools.
Not long after Sails’ announcement, numerous USF coaches and staff — including athletic director Michael Kelly, basketball coaches Jose Fernandez and Brian Gregory and football head coach Jeff Scott — tweeted they would be in attendance.
— Michael Kelly (@MKellyUSF) June 4, 2020
My family and I will be there KJ! https://t.co/xOHdrXEUkn
— Jose Fernandez (@CoachJFernandez) June 4, 2020
Count me in!! ‼️‼️ https://t.co/lJ7T2VUfOM
— Coach Brian Gregory (@CoachBGregory) June 4, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Sails is emphasizing not just peace, but also safety.
“Please wear a mask and gloves and feel free to bring signs, water or anything you may need on this PEACE WALK,” Sails wrote.
“If you truly support and love me how you claim to, then WALK WITH ME! Not later, NOW!”
The walk starts at 1108 N. Franklin St. and ends at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
The church is located in Central Park Village, where Martin Chambers, a 19-year-old African-American was shot dead by police in 1967. Sails wrote that one of his family members witnessed the shooting.