Cardinals join kneeling movement

Lincoln football players kneel during the national anthem before a game against Madison on Sept. 22.

It is a simple action, but it carries a lot of meaning. Football players kneeling for the national anthem has become the focus of a massive controversy extending from billionaire NFL owners to the U.S. President, and, now, to Lincoln.

Six Cardinal football players have regularly kneeled during the Anthem at games this year, with several more of their teammates joining or standing in solidarity.

On Aug. 14, 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made news headlines by sitting during the national anthem at the 3rd preseason NFL game. Some saw it as an act of disrespect to the United States, but when he was in the postgame press conference, he revealed his reasoning.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people, and people of color,” Kaepernick told reporters.

The first recorded protest during the national anthem was during the 1968, Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos – both African Americans –  raised their fists during the national anthem when they were on the podium, in support “black power.” As a result, they were both thrown out of the Olympics.

Former seniors Ricky Cruz and Phil Rodgers were the first players to take a knee at Lincoln. The tipping point for the two players was the shooting of an African American man in Charlotte around mid-September 2016.

“We just thought that it was our time to voice our opinion and take a stand,” Cruz said in an interview with OPB’s Think Out Loud last year.

This year, senior Michael Forbes, senior Kenyatta Adams, junior Jackson Jones, junior Caleb Kono, and junior Noah Benton, all take a knee when the national anthem is played during football games.

Forbes had the same point of view on the situation as Kaepernick. “I will not stand for a country that oppresses black people,” he said.

On Sept. 23, President Donald Trump escalated the controversy when he said at a rally in Alabama, “Wouldn’t you love to say ‘get that son of a bitch off the field,’” referring to the players, owners and staff that have taken a knee.

“[Trump’s comments are] completely disgusting,” sophomore Kiaya Young, a member of Lincoln’s Sisters of Color. Because of Trump’s remark, every team in the NFL that was playing on Oct. 1 either took a knee, linked arms or put their fist in the sky.

Not only football players have protested, but it has spread to a wide variety of people, even those who sing the national anthem before NFL games. Singers Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder and Dave Matthews all got on their knees at concerts where they were performing and the entire Dallas Cowboys team and staff with its owner, Jerry Jones, also kneeled.

When the Dallas Cowboys, often called “America’s Team” because of its national following, linked arms, players were booed by the home crowd. While President Trump says that this protest is disrespectful, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called it a “great show of unity.”

Many agree, including Kenyatta Adams, one of the Lincoln players who kneeled. Adams said, “I kneel because there is no justice for all in America today.”