‘Coach G’: An audio story by ‘Resistance’

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On June 2, Harvard Library’s front stoop filled with people, many of whom were dressed in black, to support not only the #blackouttuesday movement on social media, but also the Black Lives Matter Protest happening.

It was peaceful, emotional and select speakers—Harvard residents Jermaine Guinyard and David Reazola—shared passionate words with attendees.

“We’re here protesting equality, not just here, but across the nation...this is a huge issue in society... they don’t want to take the time to listen and hear what’s really being said to other people,” the two men shared during the protest.

This small gesture of support in small-town Nebraska didn’t go unnoticed, being picked up by several media outlets, and eventually a podcast in New York.

“Resistance,” a spotify-original podcast by Gimlet, focuses on people who refuse to accept things as they are and are doing so in surprising ways.

When the podcast, hosted by Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr., started searching for ideas for the show, one of the podcast’s producers came across the Harvard BLM Protest in the Lincoln Journal Star. Tejan-Thomas said the crew thought the protest sounded interesting, but so did Guinyard’s story.

“We called Jermaine up and immediately he was so kind and so thoughtful and open about his story,”  Tejan-Thomas said.

With Guinyard based in Nebrask and Tejan-Thomas in New York, the two sat down over a Zoom call and with each man recording, Guinyard began telling his story.

“The town of Harvard, NE has a population of about 1,000 people. They got one bank, one bar, one school, and one black man,” Tejan-Thomas begins on the podcast episode “Coach G.” What starts out as an introduction on Guinyard soon turns into an experience of racial bias, but also overcoming a stigma.

“San Diego to Nebraska was a huge shock in itself. Coming from a metro of a million people to Harvard where you only have 1,000 people...I had to adapt, man, I really had to adapt. I think with me, the biggest thing being a very confident black man, I think a lot of people didn’t really know how to respond to me,” Guinyard said in the intro of the podcast. “I think at times Nebraska is kinda used to a particular type of way they want people of color to be.”

Tejan-Thomas, although surprised at first, commended Guinyard for sticking to the roots he had planted in Harvard, noting it’s “herculean” the way he overcame the “smile-in-your-face racism,” as Guinyard describes it in the podcast, and stayed in Harvard.

“He just chose to stay even with everything,” Tejan-Thomas said, adding “he fell in love with his town the same way he fell in love with his wife. He was the bridge to the divide, like he was put in this specific place...he’s dedicated to it.”

When Guinyard started organizing Harvard’s BLM Protest in June, he wasn’t sure how it would go or even if people would show up. From Tejan-Thomas’ perspective, the protest was more Guinyard putting himself out there and giving the opportunity to help people see there is injustice in this country.

“With everything he’s experienced, most people would take that as a sign to go away, but Jermaine saw it as an opportunity to push forward,” Tejan-Thomas said.

The event itself, as Tejan-Thomas describes after listening to Guinyard’s story, said with the BLM protest it felt like some people weren’t sympathetic to the cause, but afterward they were finally open to seeing it.

“Jermaine is one of the most genuine dudes I’ve ever talked to. Talking with him was like talking with your favorite high school teacher or high school coach...it was fun and felt like a privilege to talk to him about racial stuff that happened and how he overcame it,” Tejan-Thomas said. “I hope people listen to the show and hear his message and tap into what he’s doing.”

To hear the full extent of Guinyard’s story and Harvard’s BLM Protest, listen to the podcast on spotify (Resistance) or by visiting: https://open.spotify.com/episode/08q50zYoxh0MDqSiWHsSz2?si=fVl-nFvsS96bb23D8aul4g The episode premiered Wednesday, Oct. 28.

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