In NFL and Beyond, National Anthem Protests Spread
'Our students are witnessing the erosion of the 14th Amendment right before their eyes.'
From youthful to more seasoned athletes, from on the field and off, national anthem protests against racial injustice show no sings of abating since they were sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick one month ago.
In fact, according to one observer, "his influence is growing."
On Sunday, dismissing their coach's stance, four Washington Redskins players joined the movement, raising their fists during the anthem.
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Antonio Cromartie knelt and raised his fist before the Sunday game against the San Diego Chargers—and several on that team raised their fists as well.
The Denver Broncos' Brandon Marshall on Sunday again protested the anthem by kneeling, while teammate T.J. Ward raised his fist.
According to a tally by the U.K.'s Daily Mail, over 40 NFL players spanning 14 teams have taken part in such protests.
But the protests are taking place off NFL fields as well.
Outside the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., where the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings were about to play, 100 protesters reportedly knelt on Sunday while the anthem was being played.
On Saturday, a group of University of North Carolina students in the stands joined the protests at the game against Pittsburgh, with many staying silent during the anthem while some held up their fists.
The University at Buffalo's Black Student Union on Saturday before the Buffalo-Army game sported black and sat with fists raised as the anthem was played.
Also, several football players with the University of Michigan and Michigan State on Saturday raised their fists while the anthem was being played.
And they're not just male athletes taking part.
At a WNBA playoff game last week the entire Indiana Fever team knelt while the anthem was played.
At another WNBA game on Saturday, Liberty team member Brittany Boyd refused to stand for the anthem, as did two on the opposing Phoenix Mercury team, Mistie Bass and Kelsey Bone.
Last week in Texas, the whole DeSoto High School volleyball team knelt during the national anthem ahead of their match, and cheerleaders for that school and ones from Cedar Hill, also in Texas, knelt on Friday while the anthem was played ahead of the football games.
Backing the move by the volleyball team, DeSoto school board president Carl Sherman stated that he "applaud[ed] these students for exercising their First Amendment rights." He added:
Our students are witnessing the erosion of the 14th Amendment right before their eyes. A lesson in liberty and justice, once reserved for textbooks, is now on full display in streets across our Nation. One can only imagine the fear in their hearts watching these events unfold. Our young people are hurting, and we must listen and hear their pain. As an institution of learning, we are charged with preparing our students to become problems solvers and productive citizens; not to stifle their innovation or rejection of complacency. None of us have the right to infringe on the rights extended to our young people as American citizens.
Taking stock of the weeks since Kaepernick first refused to stand, Evan F. Moore writes at Rolling Stone Monday that "his protest has become one of the biggest stories of 2016. And his influence is growing."
Yet, "Since Kaepernick sat for the national anthem during that preseason game, at least 15 unarmed black people have been shot by police officers, leading to unrest in Charlotte and Tulsa while the nation continues to condemn a football player for sitting and speaking his mind."
Kaepernick himself was at Oakland, California's Castlemont High School on Friday, where the football players took part in a die-in during the anthem. Kaepernick knelt behind them.
In a pre-game, locker room talk, he told the young players, "You are important. You make a difference. This matters. Everything you do matters. Look out for one another. Lift each other up. That's what this is about."