NFL players aren’t alone in kneeling during the national anthem: On Saturday, the Johnson C. Smith University women’s volleyball team took a knee before their match against Morris College.
The 12-woman squad linked arms in solidarity inside of Brayboy Gymnasium as part of the #TakeAKnee protests happening across the country. The (JCSU team went on to win 3-0.)
A picture of the moment was posted on Twitter by one of the players — an image that has gone viral and been retweeted more than 12,000 times.
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JCSU’s President Ronald Carter released a statement Tuesday expressing support for the student-athletes:
“Johnson C. Smith University supports the right of all members of our community, including our scholar-athletes, to engage in peaceful protest against the systematic and systemic ills of society. By taking a knee during the National Anthem, the Golden Bulls women’s volleyball team has encouraged powerful dialogue well beyond the University’s gates, and displayed an informed, principled and reverent position. Kneeling has long been a sacred tradition to show reverence and humility, which is why we kneel to pray.
“For 150 years, JCSU has groomed informed and courageous change agents,” Carter continued. “Social consciousness and intellectual rigor are essential to JCSU’s educational mission. To paraphrase W.E.B. Du Bois, ‘True college will ever have but one goal – not to earn meat, but to know the end and aim of that life which meat nourishes.’ We tell our students to smash the mold, so we expect no less than for them to demand thought and to demand change by challenging the status quo. I applaud their unity and courage in taking a knee as their public and reverent stand against injustice.”
On social media, support for the team has been overwhelming. Insiders say the school has gotten calls and messages of support from all over.
The silent protests originated last year when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem as a as way to bring attention to racial discrimination and police brutality in the United States. Kaepernick even cited the killing of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte as the “perfect example of what this is about.”
The movement has gained momentum since President Trump last week made inflammatory remarks at a political rally in Alabama.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out! He’s fired! He’s fired,'” Trump said.
Trump doubled down on Monday in tweet:
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
More than 200 NFL players kneeled on Sunday and celebrities, including singers Stevie Wonder, John Legend, and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, have spoken out against the president’s comments and participated in the protests.