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The Daily Tar Heel

Students march to football game for better visibility

The Real Silent Sam Coalition ended its CanYouSeeUsNow march outside of Kenan Stadium during UNC’s Homecoming game.

The Real Silent Sam Coalition ended its CanYouSeeUsNow march outside of Kenan Stadium during UNC’s Homecoming game.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story inaccurately stated Sam Espada's class year. Espada is a freshman at UNC. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

“All black because we’re black and blue in both senses of the word,” senior Omololu Babatunde said. “We’re students of color, students of marginalized spaces, but we’re also Tar Heels, and we wear our Tar Heel pride very proudly. But black and blue also entails a type of bruising, and you feel attacked sometimes in this space.”

The Real Silent Sam Coalition began their CanYouSeeUsNow march at the Old Well Saturday morning among visitors taking pictures with the University landmark to commemorate the occasion. The group of approximately 25 students carried banners and alternated chanting with silence as they marched through Homecoming Day festivities, ending at Gate Five of Kenan Stadium where they were met by security guards and watchful police officers.

“Homecoming Day is celebrating UNC as a home — as inclusive for all students,” said Babatunde, one of the organizers of the Real Silent Sam Coalition. “And I don’t think that’s the narrative that many students believe.”

She said the group marched Saturday to bring critical thought to the concept of UNC as a home and how marginalized students can reclaim the University.

“Now people of different backgrounds are accepted into UNC,” Babatunde said. “But when they arrive here, there isn’t space for them to perform their identities in diverse ways.”

Babatunde said some students feel their identities have been dragged through the dirt — most recently with the Wainstein report.

“The Wainstein report is about race,” the group chanted as it marched through campus. “UNC students have changed, why hasn’t higher ed?”

Athletic scandals and a lack of recognition for marginalized students aren’t unique to UNC, Babatunde said. But being UNC students localizes the problem for the Real Silent Sam Coalition. While the group works to connect to a national narrative, she said its testing ground is UNC.

Not everyone in attendance on Saturday approved of the timing.

“To me, (Homecoming) is about school spirit,” said freshman Sam Espada, who saw the demonstration outside the stadium. “I feel like you can do this at another game ... Homecoming is about more than what’s going on there.”

Freshman Lindsey Welch said the demonstration took away some of her Homecoming Day experience.

“It’s a little bit like we’re trying to enjoy our first Homecoming at Carolina and it’s just tainting the experience,” she said.

For Babatunde and the Real Silent Sam Coalition, the occasion was purposeful.

“We just want to bring some thoughts into this moment of celebration,” Babatunde said.

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