Two students from Crosby high school in Houston have lost their place on the Victory & Praise Sharks football team. Last Friday night during the national anthem, Larry McCulloigh and his cousin Cedric “CJ” Ingram-Lewis used the time to take the knee and raise a fist in the air, respectively.
Although the 18 and 16 year-old did so with the intention of raising awareness of police brutality against the African American community, their coach Ronnie Mitchem immediately removed the players for their demonstration.
The students told Reuters that Mitchem made them strip down and remove their football gear in front of the crowd. For his part, Mitchem, an ex Marine and pastor, told an interviewer over the weekend that he gave advanced warning to his players that protesting the anthem would not be tolerated and anybody who does so will end their career as a team member at the Victory & Praise Christian Center.
Although the teens were advised on the consequences of their protest, they felt it was important to move forward with it. “All the stuff that’s going on in the NFL, stuff like that, so I feel I need to be a part of it, too,” McMullough told CNN affiliate KPRC.
The young men’s display of unity for the lives of Black Americans comes at a very divisive time in our nation’s history. The #TakeTheKnee controversy was heightened after Donald Trump called players who kneel during protests a “son of a bitch.” Colin Kaepernick, who started the display of solidarity as a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, remains unsigned as a free agent.
Calls for an NFL boycott persist on both sides of the national anthem argument.