Conqu’ring Heroes Podcast: The Origin, Evolution and Future of WAR
2/16/2021 8:15:00 AM
// Brian Boesch
In celebration of Black History Month, Michigan Athletics is considering “Where Do We Go From Here?” Through conversations and profiles with our student-athletes and staff, we will celebrate people and culture, while recognizing our country’s history. In this week’s Conqu’ring Heroes podcast, we hear from members of the Wolverine Against Racism (WAR) student group.
The movement for racial equality and social justice has engulfed the country in recent months, and University of Michigan student-athletes have contributed to the cause. In fact, their passion prompted Briana Nelson, a graduate student on the track and field team, to create Wolverine Against Racism (WAR), a student-led organization that helps student-athletes utilize their platforms to further the conversation around social justice.
Soon after the death of George Floyd, Nelson spearheaded a few unity calls, which motivated her and other participants to create an organization. On the unity call surrounding the Juneteenth holiday, Nelson pitched the concept of WAR, which was well-received.
“Once people started to hear about it, I think people got excited,” Nelson said. “This is something that we need in the athletic department. It’s something we need in the athletic community, and I think that, with it, we can be stronger and support each other so much better than we are currently.”
Nelson, along with executive board members Haven Essien (rowing) and Josh Nichols (cheer), appear on this week’s edition of the Conqu’ring Heroes podcast, to discuss WAR’s origin, evolution and future as the U-M Athletic Department continues to celebrate Black History Month.
“It’s just nice to have a place to have these conversations, especially different perspectives of this conversation,” Essien said. “For so long, we tend to censor ourselves and censor our thoughts to make other people feel comfortable, but it’s embracing the idea that we have to have uncomfortable conversations.”
“If we don’t take it upon ourselves to share our experiences, the people that otherwise wouldn’t know about them will still not know,” Nichols said. “Organizations like WAR will help us continue having these conversations.”
WAR has held several events in honor of Black History Month, including celebrations of successful Black staff members within the athletic department. Beyond the month of February, Nelson and the rest of the organization hope to expand its reach on campus, to both student-athletes and staff members.