Words By: Chelsea Stewart
In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem, Defense of Fort McHenry and it was later renamed The Star Spangled Banner. The hymn, which describes America as “the land of the free and home of the brave,” was declared the United States’ National Anthem in 1931. But today, in a world of racism, oppression and police injustice, some are refusing to support our nation’s song any further.
During pre-season games, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick took a stance against social injustice and kneeled during the National Anthem rather than standing on live television.
In an interview after his first game protesting the anthem, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
During the start of seasonal games, 49ers safety Eric Reid also knelt during the anthem. Antoine Bethea and Eli Harold, who also play for the 49ers, raised their fists in support.
On the opposing team, Kenny Britt and Robert Quinn of the Los Angeles Rams raised their fists during the performance. Britt was also one of five Rams players to raise their hands in “don’t shoot” poses after the 2014 Missouri riots, which were the result of an unarmed black teenager being shot by a white police officer.
Many outside of the sports world are in lieu of Kaepernick’s leadership also. President Obama endorsed his decision as a “constitutional right to make a decision.” A navy sailor who publicly supported Kaepernick might face disciplinary action. The NFL star has even influenced high school players to take a stance. It’s no longer just a football thing.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the protests happening in the NFL. I embrace them. People may feel like what’s going on is dishonorable or disrespectful, but they are forgetting the true meaning behind the things in which they are pledging their allegiance. The anthem, flag, and all other patriotic symbolism protect and encourage the actions of the protesters. That’s what true democracy and freedom is all about,” says Tayler Waters, a senior Computer Science student.
Protests have angered people from all over the nation. Many have said that it is disrespectful to the military and our country. Some have even threatened boycotts.
“I feel like you should exercise your constitutional right to express yourself in the manner that you want, but at the same time I think it’s not the right place to do so,” David Scrug, a Tallahassee resident, says.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps only to be stripped of two endorsement deals. He was recently dropped by the Air Academy Federal Credit Union and CenturyLink. Kaepernick has yet to lose any endorsements.
If you are interested in seeing the next round of athletes to support Kaepernick, the 49ers are scheduled to play the Buffalo Bills, Sunday Oct. 16.