LBJ Library exhibit chronicles social issues in the game

The exhibit is a walk through time.  A journey of sports icons who competed for America despite racial and gender barriers.

"To see through various sports in our history, how far we've come, but then you get to the end of it and you realize how far we still have to go,” said Nate Boyer.

Nate Boyer and Ibtihaj Muhammad are two of the most recent contributors to the exhibit at the LBJ Library. They were among those touring the exhibit Tuesday afternoon. 

Muhammad's fencing uniform, which she wore during the Olympics, is one of the last items on the tour. It includes her hijab, which sparked a discussion about Muslim Americans and religious freedom.

"I never allowed other people to dictate my journey for me,” said Muhammad.

The controversy about the headdress then, continues to provide Muhammad with the opportunity to talk about inclusion. It’s a message she shared earlier with a group of school children.

"I encourage them to kind of find what they are good at and to chase that dream and not allow other people to tell you that you are not capable or you're not smart enough, or pretty enough or strong enough to do it, you have to be your own biggest cheer leader and believe that the impossible is always possible,” said Muhammad

Nate Boyer is here because of link to the NFL National Anthem protest by his friend Colin Kaepernick.

"I wasn't trying to reset history or anything like that,” said Boyer.

His letter, now on display, is part of history.  The former UT football player and Green Beret wrote to the NFL quarterback suggesting Kaepernick move his protest from sitting on a bench to taking a knee. Boyer's only regret now is how the reason behind the protest still seems to get lost.

"There is a lot we can do, there is a lot we can focus on, there is a lot with the media and loud voices we can ignore,” said Boyer.

Muhammad was also critical about how the real message at times is used to promote discord and not toward a solution.

“Like Nate has said, the media has really hijacked the narrative and made it about something it's not, it’s about inequality, it’s about police brutality," said Muhammad.

The idea for this exhibit dates back 10 years. It’s appropriate the exhibit is in the Johnson Library, because of LBJ's push for a great society and his drive for social justice. One of the lead designers spoke to FOX 7 Austin about what she hopes people will feel after walking through this exhibit.

"And so we knew we had to talk about all of it and had to include all of it," said Nikki Diller.

Diller is a LBJ Museum Exhibit Specialist. She believes some will identify with the past struggles, while others will be prompted into action.  

"So yes, our current national dialogue with national athletes is not something new, and that’s something we hope visitors can take away,” said Diller.

That hope is summed up with a quote made by Fredrick Douglas. It’s located at the beginning and at the end of the exhibit. The quote reads; “if there is no struggle, there is no progress." 

The exhibit runs until January 13, 2019.