NJ school board said ‘no’ to BLM shirts but players found way to support
MANCHESTER — By rejecting a star athlete's request to wear a basketball uniform shirt with "Black Lives Matter" on it, a school board actually brought the cause more awareness, according to the mother of Ocean County high schooler Destiny Adams.
Adams, a senior at Manchester High School, and many of her teammates arrived at Tuesday's season opener basketball game wearing black hoodies that read "Black Lives Matter" across the front.
It was an alternative and informal response after the warmup "shooting" shirt proposal was shot down by the Manchester Board of Education at a public meeting on Jan. 20, Lisa Adams said on Wednesday to New Jersey 101.5.
"This movement means so much to me, personally, as a Black woman in America," the 17-year-old Adams said in a prepared statement during the board meeting, which was posted to YouTube.
"This does not mean I value any person over another, but I'm standing for a change that will embrace equality for every race," the teen also said. "To me, Black Lives Matter has nothing to do with the police, I have nothing against the police. It's just that all lives cannot and will not matter until Black lives do."
The 17-year-old standout player has committed to University of North Carolina for next year.
Adams was interrupted at least twice as she began reading her statement as Board Attorney Thomas Monahan said he could not hear her.
Lisa Adams spoke after her daughter, followed by "proud dad" Dennis Adam, who also is the principal of Manchester High School.
After the family's collective comments the board did not take a live vote on the issue.
"We as the Board of Education are elected to represent the whole school and our uniforms have to be uniform," Board President Ken Pate said, after first admiring Adams' courage in speaking in public on the matter.
"Destiny, please do not give up your passion," Pate added.
A spokesman for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association told the Associated Press that decisions on pre-game attire are the responsibility of local school districts.
Lisa Adams said after disappointment over the way the request was handled at the board meeting, a follow-up session with the school's athletic coaches meant a lot to her daughter, who had been nearly ready to transfer schools for the remainder of her senior year.
Adams also said her daughter has learned from the experience as the issue sparked many comments on social media, both negative and supportive.
"She is simply trying to bring awareness to the fact that Black individuals are not treated fairly in this country," Lisa Adams said in a phone conversation with New Jersey 101.5, adding that it has "nothing to do with police or violence — we’re a Christian family."
Among public support, the WNBA's New York Liberty tweeted that they stand with Destiny Adams.
"We admire her courage to speak out and bring awareness to the inequalities and inequities of the Black community."