DURHAM, NC (WWBT) - Henry Coleman III is in the early stages of his college career. The Trinity Episcopal product is tipping off his freshman season at Duke.
“You see guys like Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, Christian Laettner on the wall, and you’re finally part of that program and this brotherhood,” Coleman said on Monday. “It’s really a surreal feeling.”
But even though he’s one of the youngest on the Blue Devils’ roster, he found himself front and center on Thursday afternoon. It was a peaceful protest and conversation on racial and social injustice spearheaded by the men’s basketball team, and Coleman took the microphone, sharing a testimonial that lasted about three minutes.
“My parents have told me always just use my platform,” Coleman recalled. “I’ve built this platform. They always tell me ’you wouldn’t build a house and not sleep in it,’ so I’m going to use this platform and continue to talk.”
Coleman described his experiences with racism on Monday as “micro-aggression” throughout his life- things like being followed and watched closely in the grocery store, given looks of uncertainty, the kind of racism that African Americans experience on a daily basis. On Thursday during the protest, he described to the group in attendance some of the discussions he’s had with his parents.
“Words cannot explain the numbness that me and my brothers and sisters are feeling right now,” Coleman said on Thursday. “Words cannot explain the pain that my mother looks at me with every night. Words can’t explain the pain that my father and the tremble of his voice when he talks to me about death... before seeing death in any movie or any event ever.”
“My dad has to explain to me why certain stuff is happening,” said Coleman on Monday when speaking with media. “It’s sad that we have to have these talks when you’re just five years old, but you have to have them.”
Coleman referred to the Duke brotherhood several times during his availability on Monday. He felt that strongly last week, when the entire team surrounded him during his emotional statement.
“It almost felt like a security blanket. It felt like I had people around me that truly cared and that really followed the message with me.”
The former Titan is new to Duke’s campus, but he’s not at all new to leadership. He was Trinity’s class president during his senior year. He plans to learn and lead during his time in Durham, both on and off the court.
“I can just kind of be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge that they have to give me, but I have those leadership qualities that I’ll be able to keep voicing and keep leading.”
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