Protesting by ‘taking the knee’ during the “Star-spangled banner” – who are the patriots?

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This is the sixteenth and final of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month I have been posting about my experiences. In this last article, I reflect on my journey and its relevance to what is going on these days in the good ol’ US of A.

Imagine the scene. Being an absolute sucker for plaques, I was dutifully reading the plaques in Court Square, Montgomery AL. I was queuing up, or should I say “in the line”, to read the Rosa Parks’ plaque there. There was a couple in front of me.

Why should we celebrate that ****?

– said the fellow in front of me, using a very strong expletive not normally wittingly unleashed on LDV readers. Neeedless to say, the man was white also. This outburst surprised me a bit. Here I was, paying great reverence to Ms Parks, having travelled 4,303 miles (as the crow flies) to do so. And here was this guy asking why we “should celebrate this ****”.

I felt like interjecting to say – “Well, I don’t see anyone forcing you to set off fireworks or crack open the champagne!” But I held my tongue – it’s not my country, after all.

That incident highlighted the great divide in America. The open wound, recently made even more open by Donald P Trump. The struggle for equal rights, pursued for decades by Colonel Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th regiment, Violet Lewis, Dred Scott, Martin Luther King, Philip Randolph, Berry Gordy, Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin etc etc and all the others whose footsteps I had traced around the USA, goes on.

Is it right that NFL players refuse to stand during the US national anthem and, instead, ‘take the knee’ in an attitude of prayer?

Here’s a little clue. When even Stevie Wonder is “taking the knee”, there’s a better than even’s chance that right is on the side of those making full use of their First Amendment rights to eschew the upright position for Francis Scott Key’s anthem.

Thank you for reading my “Journey through American history”! You can browse through all the posts in the series here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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5 Comments

  • Laurence Cox 18th Oct '17 - 11:11am

    Now let’s see one of the NFL team owners offering Colin Kaepernick a contract. The Packers need a new starting quarterback and he is far from being worse than the 32nd best quarterback in the NFL.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Oct '17 - 5:25pm
  • Yusuf Osman 19th Oct '17 - 6:59pm

    Thank you very much Paul for your fascinating articles and insights. You’ve given me a much needed reminder that I have a book about Rosa Parks which I ought to get round to read very soon. Although my PhD research had nothing to do with the American Civil war, one of the people I’ve been researching, Augustus Charles Hobart-Hampden (Hobart Pasha) was a blockade runner, taking supplies in to Wilmington and Charleston and bringing out cotton. I found his views on the subject of slavery somewhat unsettling and the fact he was doing it for proffit and because he enjoyed a challenge a little difficult. An interesting person nonetheless. But you remind us that slavery as practiced in the US continues to have an impact today.

  • It’s lousy politics. You’d think they wanted Trump to win reelection.

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