During a time where a major discussion is transpiring nationally about racial injustices, Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis took time to reflect on what Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his family have done to create opportunities for African-Americans in football and in their community.
“I am proud to work for a family that has committed their life to equality and created so many opportunities for African-Americans in football. Beyond the Rooney family, I consider the impact that the Harbaugh family has had on many of us African-American coaches and players to create opportunities to make an impact in the game we love. Dating back to the days where Jack Harbaugh led teams to championships with a black quarterback in Willie Taggart, to Jim winning conference/division championships with black quarterbacks, Josh Johnson and Colin Kaepernick, to John now leading a franchise with a NFL MVP quarterback who is also black in Lamar Jackson. Some may look at the impact the Harbaugh family has had and say they were just players... however, without the Harbaugh family, opportunities given to coaches in position of power like myself would not exist! The fairness and promotion of black coaches in leadership roles like David Shaw, Derek Mason, Willie Taggart, Jim Caldwell, Pep Hamilton, myself, and so many others would not exist today. Jim Harbaugh is a head coach that does more than just teach you on the field, he is involved in our government, working to provide legal aid for all citizens, and has worked hand-in-hand with Michelle & Barack Obama on many initiatives that make a difference in the lives of so many young people today. In challenging times like today, I salute the Harbaugh family not for the job I have but the jobs and opportunities they continue to provide for those who look like me! Thank you for us all!”
Harbaugh has never been one to shy away from speaking out when he believes something is unfair. On Sunday, in solidarity with African-Americans wanting fundamental change in the country, Harbaugh said that “all injustice should be confronted and punished. It has to be equal and fair for all, and no one can be above the law.”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledged Harbaugh in January 2017 during a speech for his help with her Reach Higher initiative, which promotes higher education. In ‘17, Harbaugh also became a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s leadership council, telling congress “all Americans should care about equal access to justice”.
Gattis’ comments reiterate Harbaugh’s desire for all Americans to be treated equal no matter what their skin color is.