The Dallas native who is the head coach of women’s basketball at Texas A&M University released a statement against racism and in solidarity with protesters.

Gary Blair, who is white and was the first girls basketball coach at South Oak Cliff High School, says his time teaching at that predominantly black school in the 1970s taught him to see racism from the perspective of the persecuted. Here’s his full statement:

Almost fifty years ago, I had the opportunity to teach and coach basketball at Dallas South Oak Cliff, an all-black high school in the heart of the city. The school gave me a chance to start my career, and the people of South Oak Cliff took me in and made me feel like family. I owe everything to the city, the school and the incredible community for teaching me what mutual respect is all about. I did not see color in my student-athletes and in my students — I only saw tremendous young men and women full of potential. I did see color in these young men in other ways, however, and in doing so, I learned to value and appreciate that we all bring different perspectives and experiences into each other’s lives. We are a stronger society when we listen and learn from each other.

My heart breaks for the young women in our program and our coaches who are angry, confused and saddened by incidents of the past few weeks, and now, the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, for many of them and their families, this is not the first time that they must ask, why? We all should be asking why, regardless of our race or ethnicity. I may never fully understand what it means to be black in America, but I certainly know injustice when I see it. It is incumbent upon all of us to do our part to reach a greater understanding, a stronger mutual respect and a more just path forward. With our young generation stepping up and raising their voices, I am hopeful that future generations will never know the pain of racism.

I am here, WE are here, for our student-athletes, their families and former students as well, and will always be.

Blair grew up in Dallas and graduated from Bryan Adams High School, where he was an all-city baseball player. He started at South Oak Cliff in 1973 and he also started and coached girls and boys golf teams.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about his time at the school:

In his seven seasons at South Oak Cliff, he set a state record with five consecutive state tournament appearances and a 239-18 record. His teams won three state Class 4A championships, in 1977, 1978, and 1980, and finished as the runner-up in 1979 by only two points. For his efforts, Blair was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame. At South Oak Cliff, Blair coached Debra and Kim Rodman, Dennis Rodman’s sisters. Blair used to play ping pong with Dennis. After winning the first state championship, he was offered the head baseball job he had been waiting for, but he turned it down to remain coaching the women’s teams.

Blair started coaching at the collegiate level in 1980 and became the women’s head basketball coach at Texas A&M in 2003.