Protests during the national anthem have somehow become more of a hot topic after Colin Kaepernick started the practice during the preseason last year. Largely fueled by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, players have been emboldened by a sense of unity, and we are seeing sweeping protests at all levels of sports.
While the initial wave of protests petered out late last season, one team has continued the practice uninterrupted for the last year.
The Howard University cheerleading team joined Colin Kaepernick in his silent protest of violence against African-Americans last year and never stopped.
Even when the protests weren’t the hottest story in the world of sports, the cheerleading squad from one of the most prestigious, predominantly black universities in the country.
“I think about liberty and justice for all, and how it’s not being executed in our country right now” cheer co-captain Sydney Stallworth told the New York Times.. 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.”
At Howard, the national anthem is often accompanied with the turn of the century hymn, “Lift Every Voice.” During the playing of the hymn, the cheerleaders raise a fist in the air as a sing of solidarity.
When the tune switches over the the National Anthem, they all take a knee.
There has been little if any blowback for the cheerleaders action considering the demographic at Howard University.
“H.B.C.U.s are a space of nurture where you can be surrounded by black excellence, black genius, and black excellence and brilliance can become normalized,” noted author, television hose and professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. “And also black resistance can become normalized.”
The cheerleaders have not indicated how long they will keep their protest going, but theirs is one of the few unanimous protest efforts so far. Even in the wake of President Trump’s divisive comments, NFL teams were unable to get 100-percent cooperation on the protests.