Ducks

Jevon Holland was ready to put his career on the line for social justice

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NBC Sports Northwest

Throughout the month of October and the first week in November, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication is holding weekly webinars, run by a panel of professors, students and faculty members to help educate its students (or anyone attending) about this election season.

Scroll to the bottom to see a full list of all five webinars and the subjects that will be discussed at each.

Week two of this series featured a familiar name around campus: "Sports, Journalism and Social Activism" with Associate Professor Troy Elias, Professor of Practice Lori Shontz, and UO student athlete Jevon Holland.”

Holland has been adamant about using his voice and platform not just by bringing awareness to issues surrounding social injustice, but also providing real life application and examples of leadership. For example, Holland spearheaded a campaign to change the name of one of the halls on the University of Oregon’s campus, Deady Hall. 

So much of the time, athletes are told to ‘shut up and play,’ taking the human aspect out of sports and seeing someone as just an athlete. Colin Kaepernick, who Holland looks up to, knelt during the national anthem in 2016 and still to this day is not on an NFL roster. Journalist Laura Ingraham has told NBA superstar LeBron James to ‘shut up and dribble….’

There are more examples of this in sports and something that resonates in Holland. It even led to Holland potentially hanging up his cleats.

 

“I really resonate with him [Kaepernick] the most because I was personally ready to lay my whole career on the line for standing up for what was right. I said this before in an interview, if my future was affected in playing football because I spoke up and tried to defend the people that didn’t have the voice that I had, I was 100 percent okay with that. Like I said before, I have plenty of other things that I like to do. 

If that was effective and like I guess that’s my time now. I guess that my time in this game is up. But Colin Kaepernick, absolutely, the way that he went about it, how he explained himself, explained the reason behind it, and getting the idea of taking a knee from the army veteran, I think that was amazing also. 

Jevon Holland

Ever since that moment, Holland took that act with him even in his high school days.

After two seasons in an Oregon football uniform, Holland has officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. But his play, and his voice, has left an impact on the Pac-12 conference. 

Back in August when the conference was in disarray about the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the student-athletes raised their voices, Holland included. The #WeAreUnited movement was created by the student-athletes to ensure that their voices, concerns and demands were heard regarding the upcoming season. The players wanted safety and compensation if the league wanted to see football on Saturdays. 

Since the Pac-12 announced the season is back in the year 2020, that campaign has simmered, but Holland hopes that the players can continue to lift one another’s voices.

“The direction it’s going, hopefully the classes underneath me and underneath my peers will kind of take up that fight because at some point, we aren’t going to be college athletes anymore… I feel like with the season that was coming up and the turmoil in the country, it just added more light to the situation that we are in… Basically just understanding your power and how much you’re worth… But because they cancelled the season - especially for the Pac-12 because they cancelled the season - I felt like a lot of that steam kinda burnt out.

I knew that was going to happen and I was upset because… the desire to play was more than their desire to fight for what was right.

Jevon Holland

Now, Holland will take his platform with him to the next level on the professional stage.

One of the ways he wants to utilize his voice is through youth camps. So many NFL players hold football camps during the offseason. Holland has a similar approach, but instead of football, it will be more of an educational opportunity.

“I’m just going to continue to use my voice to speak up,” said Holland. “Keep educating myself. Once I get to a place where I’m able to, I want to be able to establish much like football camps but camps where I can go and educate young men, young women who might not have the opportunity to learn these things in school…”

You can watch the full video from this webinar on the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication YouTube page.

Here’s a list of the individual seminars:

Oct. 5 — "Journalism, Politics and the 2020 Election: An Overview" with Professor Regina Lawrence and Assistant Professor Brent Walth

 

Oct. 12 — "Sports, Journalism and Social Activism" with Associate Professor Troy Elias, Professor of Practice Lori Shontz, and UO student athlete Jevon Holland

Oct. 19 — "Gender, Race, and Identity in the 2020 Election" with Professor Regina Lawrence, Assistant Professor Dayna Chatman, and Assistant Professor Amanda Cote

Oct. 26 — "Connecting with Communities, Reaching Rural America" with Professor of Practice Damian Radcliffe, Instructor Todd Milbourn, and Senior Instructor Lisa Heyamoto

Nov. 9 — "Journalism and the 2020 Election: A Debrief"

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Oregon wide receiver Keenan Howry].