Photo by Isabel Thalken/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska Athletics Hosts Black History Month Panel

By Erica Nett

On Monday night, Nebraska Athletics sponsored its third-annual Black History Month Panel, featuring Preston Love, Kiki Stokes, Albert Maxey Sr. and Charlie Foster. 

The panel was led by Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Lawrence Chatters, who asked the panelists a series of questions. Students and staff from across campus heard about the lives and experiences of the four panelists, as well as advice.

Maxey who was part of the first all-black high school state championship, told the audience to "treat your life the same way you compete. You can compete hard, but you have to respect the people you compete against. Work hard because they're going to work hard to beat you. Be friendly to each other. Keep your minds focus. Athletes will change the world."

Stokes, a volunteer coach for the Nebraska softball team and a National Pro Fastpitch Champion advised students to "work hard from the start because nothing is going to be given to you."

Love talked about his time at Nebraska in the 60s and how sports brought people together when the country was "in turmoil." "When [Martin Luther] King was doing what he was doing, I was trying to figure out how to catch the ball with one hand. We were so out of sync." It wasn't until the 1964 Orange Bowl, when the team's hotel in Florida wouldn't let African Americans stay at the hotel that Love realized how bad things were. Bob Devaney moved the entire team to a new hotel, but it was still a realization moment for him.

Towards the end of the panel, students got the opportunity to ask questions and the conversation shifted towards a recent campus event. Less than one week ago, videos surfaced of a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student claiming to be "the most active white nationalist in the Nebraska area." Naturally, students and staff wanted to discuss the event with the panelists.

"Adversity will bring unity," Love said. "Use this opportunity to unify people at this university. You are making history right now, you just don’t realize. Don't mess this up. Don't squander this time. Make this history. The worst thing that can happen is that you really realize that you didn't do your best. You'll hate yourself for the rest of your life. Make history."

Foster agreed and really emphasized the power of sports. "You are part of a team so you can show others how to be part of team Nebraska," Foster said. "Talk to peers who are different. Talk to them. be respectful and be helpful. You have an opportunity to be role models for your peers because you know how to be part of team and you know how to make each other better. It's our moment to change this campus and make it the way we want it to be. Let people know that this is our campus and we are going to stay here and hate is not going to win. In the media, we look like a hateful place and I know we aren't. You're here because the university is special and this is our time to show the world just how special it is."

Stokes added, "Be kind. Walk in love. Be compassionate. This world is so hateful right now. The athletic department here is something special so if we can take that out into the community, I think that can be really special for people."

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