DETROIT — In a low-key, unadvertised visit, the Michigan football team made good on its promise to a school regent and toured a holocaust museum in mid-April ahead of its week-long trip to the northeast.
Jim Harbaugh’s team went to the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills for a day in April, the head coach said Thursday, calling it “very impactful” for the players and staff.
“It’s like anything; there’s so much to learn,” Harbaugh told reporters during a Sound Mind Sound Body football camp at Wayne State University. “Those that want to learn, learn. That was really, really impactful.”
Harbaugh said the visit gave the Michigan team “an insight on history” as it learned about The Holocaust, a period of time between 1941 and 1945 that saw Nazi Germany systematically murder an estimated six million Jewish people.
The tour was organized and led by Michigan regent Jordan Acker, who suggested the trip in October after running back Donovan Edwards promoted antisemitic messaging on social media platform Twitter. Edwards later apologized publicly, and to the team privately calling it “a mistake.”
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“Even though the Holocaust ended nearly 80 years ago, the lessons from this museum — fighting for those who don’t have a voice, understanding the roots of hate speech, and more, are still relevant today,” Acker, who is Jewish, said in a written statement to MLive, confirming the trip. Fellow regent Denise Ilitch joined the team.
“I was deeply touched by Coach Harbaugh connecting his student-athletes to this recent history, especially while discussing the important of Jesse Owens in Ann Arbor, and his deep understanding of the fight to save those in the Warsaw Ghetto. That was an enormously meaningful afternoon for all.”
Harbaugh praised Acker for his work in coordinating the visit, but also for his understanding in the situation.
“Understanding that things people don’t know, they don’t really know,” Harbaugh said. “I applaud him for suggesting it, for hosting us, and teaching us all. Because we care. We care about our fellow man. We don’t want to do anything that’s offensive to anybody. We’re for everybody.”
Just a few weeks later, players were given the option of touring a second museum, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., as part of the team’s seven-day trip to New York City, the nation’s capitol, Gettysburg and Ohio.
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