Should Americans be allowed to take a knee during the National Anthem?


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick’s decision has spurred a nationwide debate on kneeling during the National Anthem.

Siena Sharpe and Tyler Peck


Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A time comes where silence is betrayal.” 

In a time where racial prejudice and oppression of specific groups are on the rise, King’s words encourage those with a voice to reach out and take a stand for others.  

In 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the National Anthem. 

This single act sparked a series of peaceful protests among NFL players and citizens alike.

A few weeks later, Kaepernick began to receive backlash from critics regarding his “unpatriotic” attitude. But, Kaepernick and those who supported him took a knee in order to show support towards the individuals that were facing racial inequality without intending to show disrespect toward veterans.

Racial injustice and police brutality increased as 2016 continued, shocking the country with the murders of innocent individuals, especially in the South and East Coast. In Ohio, a 12-year-old African-American boy, Tamir Rice, was fatally shot by the police for simply having a toy gun. 

U.S. police killed at least 258 black people in 2016, according to a project by The Guardian that monitors police killings in America. 

  Individuals like Kaepernick believe this is a horrifying statistic that should be taken into account on a larger scale. 

“To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,”  Kaepernick said in 2016, during a press conference with NFL Media. “There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave, and getting away with murder.”

 These are all clear reasons for the peaceful protests carried out by Kaepernick and teammates such as safety Eric Reid. Kneeling during the anthem serves to spread awareness for the growing racial inequality in America. The consistent oppression of the black community across America needed to be addressed and with such a large platform, Kaepernick decided to take a stand. Due to this, Kaepernick was not re-signed to the 49ers, and he remains unemployed.

With President Trump in office, more white supremacists and racists have decided to voice their hate toward minorities, especially blacks.

Due to this, NFL players and other professional athletes have decided to bring back the peaceful protest because they felt the need to rise against racial inequality once again. 

The LA Sparks professional women’s basketball team voted to stay in the locker room during the anthem to display unity and solidarity for all. So did several NFL teams.

On Sept. 23, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to take a knee to show that NFL players are not the only ones who can reach out and protest.

In general, the motive behind these peaceful protests is not to disrespect the flag or offend any members of the military, but to bring awareness to a very prominent social injustice. 

Events in history have shown  that anyone can protest injustices in a respectful and peaceful manner, no matter the situation. 

The First Amendment protects the right to free expression and the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly. 

The individuals taking part in the protests are solely utilizing their First Amendment rights freely and respectfully. This is not to say that those participating in the protests aren’t still patriotic Americans–they are.

Instead of being bystanders in a time of need, protesters are expressing their beliefs in a new light. 

It’s time to speak up and fight for those who are oppressed. Staying silent and being a bystander will only continue the cycle, so our nation must reach out and utilize our freedom of speech to rise against the racial inequality within our country.  – Siena Sharpe



In August of 2016, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem to protest what he believes to be racial inequality and police brutality in  America. 

Since then, many major sports athletes are not standing for the anthem at games.

President Donald Trump has even gotten into the fray by opposing the kneeling, saying that it doesn’t have anything to do with race and instead is about respect for our country.

While people should have the freedom to protest what they want, kneeling during the National Anthem is not proving anything to the government and is disrespectful to our country and the soldiers who have fought for it.

One of the biggest issues with these protests is that it is unclear what the goal is. 

Protesters say that it is to show opposition against police brutality and injustice toward blacks. But what is kneeling at sports games going to do?  Racism will still exist and nothing will stop the very few accounts of police brutality in America. 

Look at the amount of police brutality now compared to the past. Supporters of kneeling aren’t looking at the comparisons of police brutality from today to the early 20th century. 

For example, in 1973, a boy named Clifford Glover was shot and killed when he ran away after being stopped by white police officers. The officer who shot him plead not guilty. 

If this action happened today, there would be nationwide riots until the officer was put in jail, and the amount of destruction would be devastating. This is one of the many incidents in the past where the offender wasn’t put behind bars. The number of unreported incidents like these could have been in the thousands.

Today, there are stories on the news every year about police brutality, with the most publicized being William Chapman and Michael Brown. 

But these stories in the news are some of the only cases of it happening in America. 

The only sport against the kneeling is NASCAR, with one team owner, Richard Childress, threatening to fire anyone on the team who wasn’t standing.       Though I don’t completely agree with the teams taking away freedom from athletes wanting to express their views, it is good to see one sport trying to put an end to these protests.

The athletes doing these protests could just be doing it for publicity.  Athletes that kneel during the anthem are bound to get national media attention and raise their status as a celebrity. 

Kaepernick is the best example of this, going from a quarterback to a polarizing star, making national news. Kaepernick’s jersey became the best selling item on the NFL’s website because of his actions.

The kneeling for the anthem is a protest that probably won’t lead to anything and will fade away once people stop caring about it. Whatever the goal is, it won’t be accomplished and eventually some other issue the media cares about will be covered instead. -Tyler Peck