The University Network

Former Syracuse Athletes Launch Campaign Against Racism

A group of former Black and Brown Syracuse University student athletes are launching a social media campaign on July 4 to help put an end to systemic racism. 

Collectively called the Black Oranges, the group’s overarching mission is to use its power and influence in the SU community to encourage and inspire meaningful action by alumni, students, faculty, staff and supporters to stop institutional oppression, racial inequality and police brutality.

On July 4, the group will launch its #GetOffTheBench campaign to encourage people to make the pledge to do at least one thing that day and beyond to assist in ending systemic racism. 

“Black Oranges is making the pledge to use our influence, resources, and network to inspire, unify, and confront racism in every facet of society,” Brian Tarrant, president and co-founder of the Black Oranges and a former SU football player, said in a news release

“Collectively, we are tired, we are outraged, and we are ready to get off the bench! We will do this at our alma mater, in our respective communities, and throughout the world. Although we may not score points or race against the clock anymore, we represent the ‘CUSE as doctors, lawyers, teachers, law enforcement, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and so much more,” he added.

The Black Oranges asks that anyone and everyone who participates share images and videos of love, charity and civic engagement. The group also asks that those who do post use the hashtags #GetOffTheBench and #blackoranges and tag @blackoranges44 on Instagram and Twitter.

Those who want or need some help developing ideas on how to be an ally in the movement can access the Black Orange’s action guide on its website. There, supporters can find helpful information on what to read, watch and do so that they can play a productive role in ending systemic racism. 

“For 8 minutes and 46 seconds we all watched the horrific torture and murder of George Floyd by the people who were sworn to protect him,” a call-to-action message posted on the Black Oranges’ website reads. “People can no longer hide behind the same dismissive arguments by suggesting this was an isolated incident or demanding we wait until all the facts are in. We know what we saw, and the world saw it, too.” 

Black Oranges started just a few weeks ago in the wake of George Floyd’s death. And, already, the group includes more than 100 former SU student-athletes of color.

Although the Black Oranges hope to see a huge virtual turnout on July 4, the group is adamant that this is more than just a one-day social media campaign. Instead, they want it to be a long-term movement to help Black and Brown students, faculty and all who want to help get rid of the persistent racial gaps in the areas of educational attainment, economic development, police reform and accountability, housing, health care and voter participation. 

“As former SU student-athletes, we thrive when challenged but we need your help,” the call-to-action reads. “Please join us July 4th for an amazing day of solidarity, growth, and activism. Everything counts and everyone has a role to play in this movement. Let’s show America what true leadership, love, and unity looks like. Get off the bench because all lives can’t matter until ‘Black Lives Matter.’ ”

Colleges and universities have always fostered growth and momentum. Student, faculty and alumni groups are powerful, tight-knit communities that have the true power to create substantial change. Although this particular movement is centered around SU, groups from other institutions can use what the Black Oranges are doing as a model that they can replicate at their own schools.