Protesters Sit for Anthem, Stand up for Racial Justice

The NFL protests against police brutality in America, which began with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have spread throughout the country and have sparked controversy and debate around the league and the country as a whole.

The protests initially began on Aug. 26 in a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers. The two teams were about to begin their opening week matchup. Before the game, the playing of the National Anthem echoed throughout the stadium, and everyone stood, except for Kaepernick.

Kaepernick explained that his action was “not to be disrespectful,” to “protest how African-Americans are being treated in our country, as minorities,” he said.

This protest has caused an abundance of controversy, and in an interview with NBC news, Kaepernick explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

“I mean, I think that there is a certain level of disrespect in sitting during the national anthem,” sophomore Faith Kipp said. “But I think that the reason that he did it was very valid.”

More NFL players and coaches alike have begun to support Kaepernick’s actions in the last few weeks. Kaepernick’s former teammate, New York Jets’ Brandon Marshall, took a knee during the National Anthem before his team’s season opener against the Carolina Panthers.

The most recent addition to the NFL protest occurred on Sep. 22 when Houston Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown raised his fist while standing for the National Anthem.

Also over the weekend, Morgan State University students organized a protest against the National Anthem by kneeling or raising their fists before a home football game.

“We’re not going to stand up for a song that historically was written by a man who owned slaves and did not support the abolitionist movement,” Morgan State senior Rebecca Phillips explained to WBALTV. “We want to show that while we support those that fight in the armed forces and want to protect our country, this country has not always been there for us.”

Other examples of protests in the past few weeks include the entire Indiana Fever team and two Phoenix Mercury players in the WNBA kneeling at the anthem. Meanwhile, the four Philadelphia Eagles players raised their fists during the anthem. On Sep. 16, 12 high school football players in Sacramento took a knee during the anthem.

But many have also come forward to show their patriotism during the National Anthem. Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin took to Twitter to address his opinion when tweeting that his entire team would “honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity.”

Although Mt. Hebron students believe that the protest is for a good cause, many have differing ideas about how to protest. Some feel that kneeling during the National Anthem may be inappropriate, but others thought it to be fitting since it brings awareness to race relations in our country.

“I feel like it’s a good protest. It’s just not the right way to do it,” junior Kyle Kirkbride explained. “There’s a much better way to protest, and it’s just really disrespectful to disgrace the National Anthem.”

Junior Grace Palmateer agreed. “He should stand up for the National Anthem. I think that’s kind of disrespectful, and I think there are other ways to protest.”

But senior Rickie Williams, a member of the varsity football team, said, “I don’t think it’s causing a deep impact to the history of the Anthem. But when any NFL player makes any type of strong opinion or gesture towards anything, it’s always going to raise conflict.”

Kaepernick began the protests in an attempt to display the importance of change throughout our country and has explained that he is not trying to call attention to himself. As this situation has generated a lot of conversation over the last few weeks, a change seems to be on the horizon. But until that time, the wait and protest continues.