CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – One of South Carolina’s most famous coaches is under fire.
Clemson head football coach, Dabo Swinney is taking heat across the country for comments he made during a news conference Tuesday.
The coach was answering a question about how felt about the recent NFL players protesting the national anthem during games and if he would punish his players.
Swinney responded by saying he would not punish them.
Clemson professor, Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, said he was impressed by the coach’s stance, at first.
But as Swinney kept talking, Kumanyika said that’s when he saw an issue.
“It was really when he started to talk about Dr. Martin Luther King and use Dr. King’s legacy to justify his position,” Kumanyika said.
In the press conference, Swinney said, “I think the answer to our problems is exactly what they were for Martin Luther King when he changed the world. Love, peace, and education.”
Kumanyika said he believed Swinney was being sincere. However, he said he thinks he is misinformed about the activist’s legacy.
“What people wind up doing, is they actually use Dr. King to silence protesters,” Kumanyika said.
The professor wrote an open letter to the coach which went viral.
The letter pointed to Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. He states the letter essentially calls out people 50 years ago for making similar comments like this one when Swinney said, “Although [Kaepernick’s] intention is good. I just think the method is not.”
Swinney went on to say he believes the football players’ actions create division.
“That’s what Dr. King responded to, saying we’re not divisive,” Kumanyika said. “We’re calling attention to the division that’s already here, and he said you have to bring that division to the light if you actually want to solve it.”
Kumanyika said after watching the press conference, as a professor, he couldn’t let the coach’s comments slide.
“I believe if Dabo Swinney was alive during Dr. King’s time, based on what he said, he would’ve condemned Dr. King as inappropriate,” Kumanyika said.
7 News reached out to Coach Swinney as well as the Clemson Athletic Department but has not received a response yet.