A ’Liah Moore ’22, a communications major and forward on the women’s soccer team, has gotten used to public speaking over the last few years. But as she held a police microphone outside the Lakewood Municipal Building this summer and began to address the crowd, “this one really hit me hard,” she says.
Moore and others from the local NAACP chapter had just finished marching through the streets of Lakewood, New Jersey, side by side with local police officers, in protest of George Floyd’s killing and ongoing police brutality. When it was her turn to talk, Moore looked into the crowd and saw a woman crying. In that moment, she felt the pain of not just one person, but everyone there. “You look around, and it’s a crowd of people who are hurt, broken—people who haven’t been heard,” Moore says now. “It hit me: I’m not just speaking for myself. I’m speaking for the whole crowd and anyone who is listening. That’s a real honor.”
Through tears of her own, Moore introduced herself and began: “Because I am Black,” she said, “me talking with the right etiquette means talking like a white person.” She discussed wage gaps, broken families, and ignorance and hatred. “Let’s not come together for just some protest, but stick together to make a change and a different narrative for us,” she added. “If we want change, we must be the change. If we want peace, we must demonstrate peace. If we want justice, we must raise our voices.”
If we want change, we must be the change. If we want peace, we must demonstrate peace. If we want justice, we must raise our voices.
Moore has been involved with the Ocean County/Lakewood Chapter of the NAACP’s Youth and College Division since she was 10 but only began speaking at events in the past few years. As the Black Lives Matter movement swelled this summer, and as she watched professional athletes speak out and protest, Moore committed to stepping up her own activism too—both at Monmouth and beyond.
She figured the campus athletic community, where she already has close ties, was a good place to start. Moore loves her teammates and coach, but even in that supportive environment, there has been discomfort and pain: the time a group of boys cheering on an opposing team called her “monkey”; all the parties she skipped, afraid that if the cops came, she’d be first on their radar as the only Black student there; the feeling of being Black in a locker room where the majority of the team is white.
Moore believes that change begins with simply sharing her perspective and these stories. That’s why she participated in a “Hawk Talk” Black Lives Matter panel discussion this summer and why she is working to foster more conversations this fall.
She already reached out to her soccer teammates this summer and set up a video call in which they discussed George Floyd’s killing and some of her own experiences as a Black woman. Her coach and teammates have agreed to continue these conversations in person, and Moore plans to speak with other Hawks athletics teams too.
“The time is now,” says Moore. “There’s no reason to hold my tongue and not try to make a difference, especially with what’s going on in our country and especially with sports today. Athletes in the NBA, MLS, NFL—they’re all doing something. And everything they’re doing, we can do as well. I’m just trying to figure out the best approach so I can use my voice to bring awareness and make a change in the world.”