Four UNC students relaxed in chairs around one of Sutton's Drug Store's diner tables, sandwiched between the lunch counter stools on the left and the booths on the right.
They were quiet — chatting at a volume that would have been inaudible from a table away in the normal din of one of the most iconic establishments in Chapel Hill.
This wasn’t the normal din, and this wasn’t a normal conversation. In front of the table were three cameras on tripods, two more in the hands of roving videographers, two lighting kits, microphones and a small assembly of the UNCUT team.
UNCUT is an organization started by UNC students who wanted to provide a platform for student-athletes at UNC to talk about anything.
“We want to provide a platform, get the cameras, get the team, get the publicity,” co-founder Luke Buxton said. “But this is athlete-driven; this is not a platform for me to push issues on what I want to speak about. This is giving athletes a platform to speak out on what they want and to share their stories.”
That platform took shape at a polished wooden table with four styrofoam cups of water on it as four athletes had a free-ranging conversation of what it was like being a black student-athlete at UNC.
Garrison Brooks of the men’s basketball team, Michael Carter and Jake Lawler of the football team and Brianna Pinto of the women’s soccer team delved into personal stories and talked about the broad issues facing Black college athletes and Black students at UNC.
According to Lawler, who served as the mediator of the conversation, the content of the discussion wasn’t novel. But the platform that UNCUT provided them certainly is.