Seeing great diversity in the throngs of people protesting the death of George Floyd has brought hope and encouragement to Bears receiver Allen Robinson II.
"It definitely makes you feel good," Robinson said in a video interview with team reporter Lauren Screeden. "It takes a whole community to be able to push change. It doesn't take a small group of people. So being able to see everybody from all demographics, from all different backgrounds-rich, poor, black, white, whatever the case may be-to see people go out and support the cause is definitely special."
Robinson denounced the looters, but understands the pain and frustration that has angered so many people after Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer last Monday.
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"I just think as a country a lot of people are just fed up their voices maybe not being heard as loudly as they may want," Robinson said. "I think that people are getting their point across. There is some looting and stuff like that. But for the most part to see people marching, to see a lot of people holding up signs, to see [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban in the streets of Dallas walking with some of the players, I think that's definitely very special to see."
During their two-hour virtual meeting Monday, Bears players and coaches discussed Floyd's death and the ongoing unrest. Robinson is already involved in multiple community initiatives and believes that recent incidents will lead to more activism among Bears players.
"I've got a chance to talk to a lot of guys and everybody wants to be able to use their platform to have their voices heard," Robinson said.
Robinson does his community work through the Bears and his "Within Reach Foundation," which aims to provide educational opportunities and resources to low-income and inner-city Chicago students to help put success within reach.
Last May, he launched the foundation's first Reach for a Book Reading Zone in Chicago at the Gantz Boys & Girls Club. He also held a fundraising event last October, which generated more than $135,000 to support his mission. Robinson hosted his 5th Annual Operation Elf event in December, during which he visited with 25 kids from Chicago Youth Centers, took them on a shopping spree and gave them each an autographed football.
For each home game last season, Robinson purchased six tickets, which he donated to a local charity. He has also regularly visited with community guests that the Bears hosted at practice each week, and he has attended the team's annual children's hospital visit in the fall and the team's primary fundraising event in the spring.
Last November, Robinson was chosen as the Bears' 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field. All 32 teams nominate one player for the award.
Robinson was also named the Bears' 2019 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award. The honor-given annually to the player that best displays professionalism, strength, dedication and is a community role model-is voted on by teammates.
"It means a lot," Robinson said. "It always means a lot when you get awarded things that are voted on by your peers and by your teammates and even coaches as well because it's a true testament to not only the confidence and the leadership but how they view you."
Robinson was scheduled to be presented the Ed Block Courage Award at a luncheon benefiting Maryville Academy April 7. But the event was postponed due to the coronavirus.
Robinson is a two-time recipient of the award after winning the award in 2015 as a member of the Jaguars. He signed with the Bears in 2018 after missing most of the 2017 season with a torn ACL he sustained while playing for Jacksonville.
"Being able to come to Chicago, coming off an injury, and to be able to have my voice heard on and off the field-in the huddle, in the community-it definitely means a lot," Robinson said. "It means that the things that I'm doing are having some success."