Michigan football helmet decal will read 'EQUALITY' with six raised fists
Michigan football players will debut a helmet decal featuring the world “EQUALITY” and six raised fists with different skin tones to reflect the university community’s diversity.
The decal, revealed Thursday afternoon ahead of the Wolverines’ season opener at Minnesota on Saturday night, is one of two designs created by the athletic department. They will be worn on uniforms, helmets and pre-game warmups by all Michigan varsity programs during the 2020-21 season.
"Athletes wearing this decal demonstrates our role in our community," said senior defensive end Kwity Paye, who is majoring in AfroAmerican and African Studies. "It is a chance for us to be able to contribute to increasing awareness about social injustice, and it's great for those watching to see our passion so they can be aware of it as well."
In late July, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rules allowing athletic programs to feature patches or decals as part of their standard uniforms. Michigan's student-athletes led the initiative, according to the release. Teams will vote independently to wear either a similar "EQUALITY" or "BLM" mark on their uniforms and or helmets.
Briana Nelson, a graduate student on the women's track and field team, majoring in public health, coordinated the initiative.
"I'm excited because this is an opportunity for us to step outside of sport and advocate while also competing," Nelson said in the release. "It's something that will draw attention during big games and on television. Essentially, it's spreading the message, even to people who are just watching us for sport, that this is bigger than sports."
The Michigan athletes have approved the seven slogans and themes that can be used on warmup apparel, depending on individual sport regulations: Stand Together; WAR (Wolverine Against Racism); Say Their Names; No Justice, No Peace; Justice; Hear Us; Unity.
"For me, being able to wear a social justice message while I compete means that we are taking a step in the right direction,” said women’s basketball standout Naz Hillmon. “We, as student-athletes, have the opportunity to speak out about what we believe in. It's an opportunity for those who have been silenced to be heard, and to have those voices be heard on such a large stage as the NCAA is something that many would have never imagined.”