Owls for Justice, an organization of Temple student-athletes committed to fighting systemic racism and injustice in North Philadelphia, released a statement Monday detailing the actions that they are planning to take in the future.
“Owls for Justice recognizes the tremendous work being done on campus by Student Government, Black Student Athlete Union, Temple Progressive NAACP, and seeks to collaborate with these tremendous organizations to further magnify our voice and bring change,” it says in the statement.
They also plan to work with the Athletic Department to create warm-up shirts or patches that can be worn on jerseys, and creating department-wide service initiatives that will impact the entire North Philadelphia community.
Additional work will be done with the staff of the Resnick Academic Support Center so that a diversity and inclusion curriculum are included in the student-athlete University seminars. A series of lectures and workshops on diversity and inclusion will be established as well.
The group also plans to expand their voting initiative into the 2020 fall semester by creating “social media campaign and educational opportunities that will aim to get everyone educated about voting/absentee ballots and registered to vote” and “open up the voting initiative to the student body to get them registered to vote.”
They ended their statement by saying they will have a presence at the March on Washington, which takes place on Aug. 28.
The organization, which has members of the track and field, field hockey, football, women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball, golf, women’s basketball, gymnastics, and cheerleading teams, was formed in early June when protests began to take place around the country after the murder of George Floyd.
“As student-athletes, we have to work as a collective unit to accomplish our missions and win. We are currently in a battle within our country and our communities. In order to win this battle, we need every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and creed to come together as one. We feel that our Athletic Department needs to do more, and employ all our teams to be public and speak our against the recent racial injustices and police brutality in our country, now and in the future. We would be failing ourselves if we did not take action and tell the world how we are feeling,” they said in their first statement on June 5.
Two of the organization’s founding members, Isaiah Graham-Mobley (football) and Jackie Terpak (gymnastics) went on the Cherry Tribune podcast on June 8 to discuss Owls for Justice and the efforts being made to fight for racial equality.
“We thought it was our time to say something when we didn’t get the response we wanted from our Athletic Department,” Graham-Mobley said. “We kind of thought we should take it upon ourselves, being the ones that give the Athletic Department a job here. We decided to bring a select group of student-athletes together to make that statement that we released on Friday for the protest [on that Saturday]. It’s been an interesting road rolling into this leadership role within the University, especially as a student-athlete, we just try to use our platform as much as we can and we thought it was the best opportunity for us to especially with everything going on. Why not use our voice for change?”
Graham-Mobley and Terpak initially planned on just releasing a statement together before a zoom call set up by the Athletic Department changed their minds.
“Isaiah and I both reached out to people in the staff, and questioning why the Athletic Department hadn’t said much,” Terpak said. “We planned on doing a statement together and then the Athletic Department set up a zoom call to discuss what’s important, what we need to do, and from people who are vocal from that is how we found the group to put the statement together. Working with that group was really good, they’re all great people. We were actually on a call together for four hours figuring out the statement, but it was really good. I think our statement really represented what the athletes stand for.”
As student-athletes, Graham-Mobley feels that it’s important that they use their voice to invoke change in society.
“People look at us and they kind of put us on a different platform than they do for regular students. We don’t see ourselves that way, but since we are seen that way, there’s nothing that we can’t do to not use our voice.”