By: Roland Martin NewsOne
Colin Kaepernick joined by teammate Eric Reed take a knee during playing of National Anthem before NFL pre-season game
President Barack Obama has weighed in on the Colin Kaepernick National Anthem protest controversy and backed the NFL quarterback’s right to protest as being covered under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is vowing to sit during the national anthem in protest over police killings of African-Americans. Is he being anti-American by expressing his right to protest which is covered under the First Amendment of the Constitution?
Despite the endorsement, Kaepernick’s detractors continue to harbor animosity against him.
During Monday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin and his panel of guests discussed the ongoing Kaepernick saga and the protest action that seems to be slowly picking up momentum amongst other pro-athletes after U.S. Women’s Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who is a lesbian, also took a knee during the National Anthem before a recent soccer match.
To add to the support, Kaepernick’s football jersey is the top-selling jersey on the NFL’s www.nflshop.com website.
Martin said Kaepernick’s protest is resonating with many Americans because “he is making a point that is critically important and he’s not some guy who is clueless” on the issues of racism and police brutality.
Michelle Bernard, President and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy, said she was disgusted by many of the comments posted on social media by those who do not agree with Kaepernick’s chosen method of protest. She explained there is a contingent of Americans who have expressed outrage by saying, “How dare you? You make so much money in the NFL, this is not a problem, you shouldn’t be speaking out on this. Take your money, be happy, and this is so unpatriotic.”
Bernard then refuted those claims: “We live in a country where you are able to speak your mind and if you’re White … not get shot because you’ve done it.”
Ralph Chittams, Senior Vice Chairman of the Washington, D.C. Republican Party, said Kaepernick is “well within his Constitutional rights. “He has the right to stand, sit, kneel [or] not even come out of the locker room for the National Anthem,” Chittams said. “We’ve gotten to a point in this country where we don’t value dissenting opinions; we demand agreement and uniformity.”
Bernard added: “The nation pretends that Black men don’t have minds of their own, that they can’t speak and that if you speak on an issue that is important to you, it means that you’re not patriotic and you don’t like the country.”
Martin reminded viewers Kaepernick is “ticking folks off” because “America never wants to discuss the why of the protest; they only want to discuss the protest.”
Before delving into the controversy surrounding the football star, Dr. Jason Johnson gave the NewsOne Now audience a little historical context about the Star-Spangled Banner that many may not know.
In The Root, Dr. Johnson said: The Star-Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key, because he was bitter about the fact that he had lost to a group of Black soldiers and then those same Black soldiers were coming in and trashing Baltimore on behalf of the British.”
Johnson continued, “The British had offered runaway slaves — if you come and fight for us against the country that enslaved and oppressed you, we will give you your freedom.”
The whole song, in essence, according to Johnson, “is basically a diss track about a bitter, rich, pro-slavery White man saying ‘I don’t like that Black people are coming for freedom.’”