By Michael Kinney
There has probably been no other age group maligned as much as millennials. Throughout the past few years, the entire age bracket has been labeled lazy and apathetic and act as if the world owes them something.
However, during the past month, millennials have had their critics singing a different tune. They are the ones spearheading the social justice protests and calls for change in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
One of those millennials who has been front and center is Justin Broiles, a defensive back on the University of Oklahoma football team.
The redshirt junior could have kept his head down and just prepared for what he hopes is a breakout 2020 season with the Sooners. However, the Oklahoma native has been an active participant in the calls for racial and social justice from the very start. Whether it has been in Norman or Oklahoma City, he has taken part in numerous rallies, marches and events that are demanding the end to systematic racism and police brutality.
“I’m just out here doing my part, using my platform and encourage, motivate, and inspire others to make a change in and take part in change,” Broiles said.
Broiles was in Oklahoma City Saturday at a Black Lives Matter rally. He and the small group marched from the downtown headquarters of the Oklahoma City Police Department to Scissortail Park.
Broiles not only took part in the one-mile walk, but the African and African-American studies major spoke to the crowd of spectators about why they all were there.
“We know the problem’s here, but now it’s time to find a solution,” Broiles said. “So it’s time to stop putting energy on the problem, and it’s time to start putting energy on the solution. So I’ve just been focused on how can we change? What’s the next step?”
For Broiles, that next step making the system and those who make the rules more diverse.
“We’ve got to get more people of color into the judicial system, and that’s just how I see it,” Broiles said. “I feel like the system has been in place for 400 years. We have to put people in there that look like us and not even just make the system ours, but that can vouch for the minority, or that can vouch and say how this bill or this law would affect this group of people more than it would another group. So, we need that kind of just balance in the system.”
Broiles believes that the answer to the issues and problems taking place around the country can come from millennials. He wants his presence at events like the Black Lives Matter rally to help inspire others in the age group to step up, seize the moment and not be afraid.
“I got a message to the millennials and that’s just, now it’s on us, now it’s our turn,” Broiles said. “We can’t pin this on nobody else. Now it’s on us to make the change happen that we want to see happen. This is living in history right now. So, it’s on us to make that change for our young ones, and our nephews to know that you can be whatever you want to be.”
According to Broiles, millennials have shown they can be more than what has been expected of them.
“You can run for president. You can be a governor. You can be a lawyer. You can be a doctor, football player, whatever you want to be,” Broiles said. “And it’s our job to make sure that we fight this fight the correct way in order for the young ones to know and understand that it is possible to do whatever you put your mind to.”
Story & Photos by Michael Kinney/Michael Kinney Media