Coco Gauff is not yet old enough to vote. Yet following her incredible debut at Wimbledon a year ago, the young tennis phenom has a platform to urge for change. And she used it to great effect on Wednesday at a protest in Delray Beach, Florida.
The 16-year-old took the stage after her grandmother, Yvonne Odom — who was the first student to integrate the local Seacrest High in 1961 — and addressed the hundreds in front of her.
“I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing she did 50-plus years ago,” said Gauff in a video taken by Emily Sullivan of the Palm Beach Post.
Gauff said she’s had “tough conversations” with her friends who aren’t black on how they can support the movement for social justice. She urged people to vote for the change they want to see and use their platform, no matter how small, to speak up for it.
“Yes, we're all here protesting, and I'm not of age to vote, but it's in your hands to vote for my future, for my brother’s future and for your future. So that’s one way to make change.”
It is a fight, she said, for everyone and not just the black community.
“This is what I have to tell you, this: If you listen to black music. If you like black culture. If you have black friends. Then this is your fight, too. It’s not your job, it’s not your duty, to open your mouth to say ‘Lil Uzi Vert is my favorite artist, but I don’t care what happened to George Floyd.’ Now how does that make sense?”
Protests have gone into their 10th day on Thursday, the day a private memorial service will be held in Minneapolis for Floyd. Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man, died in police custody on May 25 in the city, sparking outrage and marches across the world for social justice. Athletes are speaking out about the ongoing injustice and taking part in marches, gatherings and delivering information on how to support the movement.
Gauff joins Naomi Osaka, who tweeted, “Just because it doesn't happen to you doesn't mean it isn't happening,” and Serena Williams, who shared a video of a young girl speaking about how she feels she’s treated differently. Male tennis player Frances Tiafoe brought tennis stars together in a moving video protest.
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