Allyson Felix said it was “a powerful experience” recently participating in a Black Lives Matter protest, speaking in an interview with TODAY on Thursday.
“I just felt compelled to be out there,” Felix said. “When I heard the cries of George Floyd and calling for his mother, it completely broke my heart. And so, it’s just so important for me to use my voice. And I am hopeful. It’s such a diverse crowd. I feel like there’s a lot of allies. It’s a feeling that I haven’t felt before, so I’m hoping that hope definitely moves to action.”
Felix, a 34-year-old mom to 1-year-old Camryn, wore a black T-shirt with the words “Phenomenally Black” sitting below an Olympic rings necklace in an image shared on Instagram from a protest.
“I hope that, as [Camryn] grows up, things change, but I’ll have to give her the tools to be able to navigate through what is reality right now,” Felix said. “It’s a really sobering reality to have those talks and those conversations, but as soon as I became a mother, I knew that was going to happen, and even long before.”
Since recovering from life-threatening childbirth, Felix fought for maternity protection in athlete contracts. She also testified at the House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee hearing on overcoming racial disparities and social determinants in the maternal mortality crisis.
“I hope that my daughter sees that, through adversity, we have to keep pushing,” she said. “We have to use our voice for the voiceless, and it’s not just about ourselves. I am really fighting for these things for the next generation, for her generation. I want to be able to let her know she was on this journey with me, and hopefully the world looks a lot different and she won’t have to face some of these things that I did.”
Felix, after training on streets and a baseball field near her home, is scheduled to race on July 9 at the Inspiration Games. The meet will include at least 30 athletes spread across three continents.
The exhibition team event will feature Felix racing against Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and world 200m bronze medalist Mujinga Kambundi of Switzerland in a 150m. Felix will cover the distance from California, Miller-Uibo in Florida and Kambundi in Switzerland.
Felix is bidding for her fifth Olympics and to add to her collection of nine medals, tied for the most among female track and field athletes. In her first meet as a mom, Felix made her ninth world championships (strictly in relays) and then broke her tie with Usain Bolt for the most world titles (Felix now has 13).
Felix yearns to compete in Tokyo in an individual event, which will be difficult. Last year, she placed sixth in the 400m at nationals in her first meet as a mom. The top three at trials qualify individually.
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.@allysonfelix is a 9-time Olympic track and field medalist who joins us today to talk about using her voice to protest with the Black Lives Matter movement, motherhood and how she's still training for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics during quarantine. pic.twitter.com/77qDDx3VV5
— 3rd Hour of TODAY (@3rdHourTODAY) June 11, 2020