FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A group of student-athletes at the University of Arkansas (U of A) are coming together to show their support for one another while navigating the sports they love.
The Black Leadership Athletic Committee (BLAC) was founded by 11 student-athletes after five attended a Black student-athlete summit this past summer in Houston, Texas. The main goal of the group is to have an inclusive environment for athletes.
"And the purpose of this is to not be divisive - it’s exactly the opposite. It’s just helping us understand an experience that for a long time was marginalized and assuring that everyone is celebrated so we can all move forward at the end of the day," said Forrest Barnes, U of A student-athlete development coordinator.
Leah Smith and Frankie Price compete in gymnastics at the university and they are two of the 11 founders of this movement. They say it's essential to them to have this support group in athletics.
"Having other Black athletes that you can go to and just talk about our culture and our experiences is just a great thing to have," Smith said. "Sometimes we need to have hard talks and if we’re going to have a discussion, I think that everyone can benefit from it and I’m going to encourage my teammates to come."
The organization plans to use what it learned this summer by offering education, service and fellowship to student-athletes.
"We have like one big goal of making this masterpiece and the piece of that is to provide opportunities, increase awareness for the Black student-athletes that we have here on campus, enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion and create a support system for our black athletes because that’s important too," Price said.
BLAC encourages other teammates and students to come to events to learn and grow as allies of the Black community. The group is planning to host monthly events starting this fall, including a panel discussion about healthy haircare that will be open to the public.
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