Singer Kneels in Protest While Performing National Anthem at Miami Heat Game

Photo by Alan Diaz/ AP
Singer Denasia Lawrence also wore a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt under her blazer as she sang the “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the Miami Heat game on Friday

This article originally appearead on PEOPLE.com.

In a page out of Colin Kaepernick’s book, singer Denasia Lawrence kneeled during her performance of the national anthem at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday — a move in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Lawrence wore a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt under her blazer as she sang the “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the Maimi Heat took on the Philadelphia 76ers.

 

Afterwards, she took to Facebook to explain her what went down ahead of the game. “When I took the opportunity to sing the national anthem at the Heat game, it was bigger than me,” Lawrence wrote. “Right now, we’re seeing a war on Black & Brown bodies — we’re being unjustly killed and overly criminalized. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel; to show that we belong in this country AND that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel to show that, I too, am America.”

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“As a social worker, I’ve worked with youth, families and veterans, and everyday they all teach me the value of fighting against injustice — that all are treated equally no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical abilities,” she explained — adding that she didn’t get paid to sing the anthem and wasn’t looking for fame from the protest. She added: “Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it’s a rallying cry. And until our cry is rightfully heard, protests will still happen and demands will still be made!” The Heat locked arms during the performance — and released a statement after, saying “We were unaware of it ahead of time.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters that he saw Lawrence’s action at the end of her performance. “I just noticed when she was finishing up,” he said, the Sun Sentinel reports. “Throughout all of this I think the most important thing that has come out is very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We’ve had dialogue within our walls here. And hopefully this will lead to action.” The NBA, unlike the NFL, requires players and coaches to stand for the anthem. On Oct. 11, national anthem singer Leah Tysse — who is White — also took a knee during her performance of the song before a Sacramento Kings game.

By Dave Quinn

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