Black Athletes March

Photo by Beau Nelson ’22Photo by Beau Nelson ’22 Photo: Beau Nelson ’22

Last May, Jancyn Appel ’23 was attending classes online at home in Kansas City when she heard the news that George Floyd had been murdered. Given Floyd’s treatment at the hands of police, Appel, who is Black, found herself wondering what awaited when she returned to Minnesota.

Back on campus for fall term, Appel decided to share her concerns publicly. A volleyball player, she gathered other Black athletes on campus and proposed a socially distanced march through Northfield to focus attention on racism and discrimination. “I expected maybe 20 people would show up,” Appel says.

Roughly a thousand students and faculty members joined the September demonstration.

The turnout galvanized Appel. She went on to cofound the Black Student-Athletes of Carleton, an officially recognized group dedicated to advocating for the college’s Black athletes—there are roughly a dozen—and met with Carleton’s athletic director, Gerald Young, to lobby for more recruitment of Black coaches and student-athletes. The college is in fierce competition with other MIAC Division III schools when it comes to attracting Black athletes and coaches, Young says, but he agrees with Appel: “A diverse staff attracts a diverse student body. Students want to see coaches who look like them,” he says.

Appel also hopes to dispel any ideas that Black athletes are “admission tokens” who got into Carleton because of their athletic, rather than academic, prowess. (In fact, Division III schools are forbidden to offer athletic scholarships.) She also hopes the group energizes all student-athletes. “We want things to change programmatically,” she says, “but in the meantime, we can do a lot by supporting one another.”

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