Howard University cheerleaders have been kneeling during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick and his stance — an act of protest they have undertaken since last September.
The team chose to start kneeling soon after Kaepernick began his own protest against police brutality by taking a knee. When the ladies knelt at the Howard University football game against North Carolina Central last weekend, they also stood up and raised their fists during “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem,” the New York Times reports.
“I think about the national anthem and what it stands for,” said co-captain Sydney Stallworth to the Times. “I think about liberty and justice for all, and how it’s not being executed in our country right now. And I think about how lucky I am to go to the greatest historically black university in the country—not arguably; it’s the greatest—and so lucky to have this platform.”
What stands out about the squad’s stance is that all the cheerleaders kneel en masse, unlike the one or two black cheerleaders that kneel at predominantly white institutions. Also, their protest is never meet with boos or heckling.
“There was no booing from the crowd, as there has been at several N.F.L. stadiums where players have knelt,” The New York Times reports. “The lack of drama also contrasted with what reportedly happened the same day at Kennesaw State, a public university in Georgia, where five cheerleaders attracted controversy and drew threats for kneeling during the national anthem.”
The team is open to any member who decides not want to kneel, though that has yet to happen. Their coach says that he would prefer they did not kneel, but respects their right to do so.
“It wouldn’t be my first choice,” he told the Times.
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