FC Tulsa Head Coach and Tulsa native Michael Nsien was among those marching in the city on Sunday, s day which marked the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. | Photo courtesy FC Tulsa
TULSA, Okla. – Sunday was a day of remembrance as well as protest in Tulsa, with the peaceful march through the city protesting police brutality but also marking the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.
As a Tulsa native, FC Tulsa Head Coach, Michael Nsien and his family were among those that lent their voices to the thousands that marched through the city’s streets.
“Before we got in the car, I simply asked [my children], do you know why we’re here and why everyone’s out here and what we’re protesting, and I think they understood,” Nsien told KJRH’s Jacob Tobey on Monday. “They understood on their own, they see the news and what happened to George and I said, ‘Well, it’s not just the one instance, it’s a lot of instances and it’s just an overall inequality in terms of quote-unquote justice and social inequalities.’ People just want to be treated fairly, that’s all we want, just want to be treated fairly. Not more, not better, just fair.”
Understandably, though, the past few days have been challenging for Nsien.
“It’s disappointing, almost 100 years [since] the race massacre in our own city, it puts some perspective that we’ve come a long way and we’ve got a long way to go,” Nsien told Tobey. “I would say over the last week it’s been sapping, lost a lot of enthusiasm, just taken out of me.”
FC Tulsa Head Coach Michael Nsien on the sidelines during his club's 2020 season opener, a 1-1 draw on the road against Sacramento Republic FC at Papa Murphy's Park. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
Nsien is in his second full season as Head Coach of FC Tulsa, having taken over the position midway through the 2018 season from predecessor David Vaudreuil. As a coach, one of his main goals is bringing together players from different backgrounds to unite for common success, and it’s one of the aspects of the job that he enjoys most.
“None of our players are from here, except for one. They’re from all over the world, different religions, nationalities,” Nsien told Tobey. “We’ve got guys that have lived in war-torn countries, survived civil wars. They come to America for a better life, and we’re not perfect, we still have our own problems, and for me to be able to put that together, and my coaching staff and our club to put that together and get everyone in the same direction and have unity, it’s a big part of why a lot of us do it.”
Now, Nsien hopes the Tulsa community can come together in the same way and make lasting progress after the impact Sunday’s march had on all those that took part.
“For all my friends of all different nationalities and colors, I ask them to be vocal,” Nsien told Tobey. “Don’t turn a blind eye to inequality, I have a lot of friends from all different parts of the world and I support them in all their endeavors. Hopefully at this moment they can support me and Blacks in the current situation that we’ve been facing for a long, long period of time.
“It’s a good time for change, and we shouldn’t have to wait. If we have to sacrifice some things for me, personally, I want my son to be comfortable growing up in this environment, so if I have to protest and people don’t like that and I’m frowned upon, that just may be the case, but we have to draw the line peacefully. I’m not saying going about things the wrong way, but I think it’s important we draw the line and are vocal that equality should be normal at this point. It should be normal, so for us to find a new normal, not just in the pandemic, but in racial equality, it’s time.”