EUGENE, Ore. -- For Oregon assistant men's basketball coach Mike Mennenga Juneteenth isn't just a once-a-year deal.
"The meaning of Juneteenth means so much more to me this year than what I understood it to be last year," Mennenga said. ""It's important for myself and for other coaches, in particular white coaches, to open up."
Mennenga and his wife Shanetta were guest speakers at a Juneteenth celebration in Eugene on Saturday. The fight for racial equality hits home for Mennenga. He was born into an interracial family, a white father and Latina mother, and is now the father of an interracial family.
"My wife Shanetta has always been a proponent over the years of change and equality." Mennenga said.
In his speech Mennenga related creating change to basketball by encouraging others to "become a player and get out of the stands."
Similar to the rest of the country, the Oregon men's basketball program has been at the forefront in fighting for racial equality social justice.
"Getting our athletes to register and being informed and an aware on top of that, to take it a step further it's having uncomfortable conversations," Mennenga said.
The UO basketball program already declared there will be no practice or team-related activities on Election Day, November 3rd. The purpose is to encourage student-athletes to vote.