Penn State offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe offers passionate speech at State College rally

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
C.J. Thorpe

Penn State offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe gave an impassioned speech Sunday during a downtown State College, Pa., rally that honored the life of George Floyd.

Floyd’s death last week in Minnesota has sparked outcry, anger and demonstrations across the U.S. Sunday’s peaceful rally culminated on the steps of the State College Municipal Building. Thorpe, a Central Catholic graduate, stood proudly and spoke to an estimated crowd of more than 1,000 people.

“I want to talk to you as a black man in America, because this ain’t about me and this ain’t about the individuals who are here, all right? Y’all are finally seeing what it feels like to be black in America,” Thorpe said in a speech filmed by 247 sports, which can be seen here. “Those of you who are here today and are scared thinking that the police might attack you, that the police might pepper spray you, that the police might go out and do something whenever you’re just here peacefully, you’re understanding what it’s like to be black in America.”

Perhaps Thorpe was inspired by seeing his teammate Jonathan Sutherland being targeted with a racist letter from a so-called fan last year who, among other things, denigrated Sutherland for wearing dreadlocks. Maybe it was Nittany Lions defensive lineman Aeneas Hawkins sharing via Twitter a story of racist treatment he says he encountered at a gas station over Memorial Day weekend.

Penn State defensive back Lamont Wade spoke to reporters last week about how he wanted to see a better world for his son.

“I don’t want my son to grow up in a place with as much evil as there is now,” Wade said Tuesday. “Even though you can’t avoid it. I feel like I’m trying to diminish it as much as possible, so whenever the next generation comes up, they don’t have to deal with as much as evil, or just how people look at people sometimes because of their appearance and not knowing people.”

Thorpe followed up Sunday with his vocal participation in the rally, a few miles from where he takes the field at Beaver Stadium.

“Understand, understand that this system was not created for us, the system was not created to help us — these people here, it wasn’t for us, it wasn’t built for us,” Thorpe said.  “We have to take it back. I’m not calling for violence. I’m calling for this right here. What we’re doing coming together, using the power of the people.”