Reece Whitley: ‘This Generation Was Part of Something That Made Great Change for Our Country’

Reece Whitley at the 2019 U.S. National Championships. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

When racial tension in the United States was at a fever pitch and the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum, Reece Whitley urged people to get involved in the fight against racial injustice and inequality.

Months later, Whitley is doing all that he can to make sure the momentum is still moving forward in the U.S.

It has given him a clearer picture of what the country needs, and a clearer picture of what his future will entail.

“I am finding a bit more of my purpose, not only within the sport but in life,” Reece Whitley told Swimming World. “It is still evolving. But after this movement I am having more of a clear picture of what that will look like down the road.”

Whitley, a junior at Cal, has been involved with several organizations, including Black Leadership and Aquatics Coalition, working with USA Swimming. He has spoken to club teams across the country about what needs to be done in the sport and throughout the nation.


Reece Whitley; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

“We have been participating in conversations in kind of a consulting role with USA Swimming on issues regarding race,” Whitley said. “We feel that our voice has the most visible black swimmers in our sport and we owe it to those who are not as visible as we are to make sure that USA Swimming is supporting them and doing things to help all USA Swimming members. We are extremely determined to promote long lasting change.”

The Black Lives Matter movement has been around for years. So why is it finally gaining momentum?

The video of George Floyd with a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck, which proved to be fatal, was something that jolted the nation, but it also wasn’t the first video like that to surface.

Whitley said there are several factors that have given the movement more momentum.

“The videos have always been there,” he said. “But the age that we are in as far as social media, and with quarantine, people were taking things more seriously. A lot more people had the time to read more things than they would have and had the time to talk about it with their families. I think people learned about themselves and who they surround themselves with. That experience is what really drove that initial power on making this movement what it is now.”

That supports what Whitley said all along was the most important step toward achieving the goal of racial equality — having conversations.

The conversations have been going on long enough and have been heard. The work is not done, but Whitley said it finally reached the point where nothing is going to take that conversation away.

“The conversation is at a point where it is not going to stop,” Reece Whitley said. “A lot of people are very, very committed in seeing things through. Hopefully in my lifetime, I can sit back and say I was part of something — this generation was a part of something — that made great change for our country.”


Reece Whitley; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

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3 years ago

Bravo, Reece, we all have a lot of work to do.

Isabelle Fraser
3 years ago

He is a class act!

Reginald Murray
Reginald Murray
3 years ago

The unfortunate struggle black people were forced to endure did not start with the recent murders and shooting of black people, but in 1619. Moving to recent times with Martin Luther King Jr. That was the beginning and we now must eradicate the corrupted foundation and establish what GOD and the constitution intended. No equality and peace for everyone equals no peace for our nation. Change is inevitable and coming whether the advisaries agree or not! Big Ups to Reece and every other black athlete participating in the sport of swimming.

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