Professional football players aren't the only ones taking a knee during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
About 85 students at Normal Community High School did not stand during the anthem at this year's homecoming assembly Oct. 6, including some members of the choir who were singing it.
Members of the Social Studies Club said students wanted to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and express concern about police shootings of African-Americans.
“As a group we’re passionate about fighting for the rights of individuals. And this year alone we have seen a significant amount of racial injustice,” said senior Sara Nur-Awaleh.
“We refuse to accept that this is the nation we live in, that individuals are killed unjustly and their families can never receive closure because justice was not served.” Nur-Awaleh added.
The school’s Culture Club also joined with Social Studies Club in organizing the protest, which took place in the school gym.
Nur-Awaleh said that members of the student body who were informed of the protest beforehand were supportive of the idea of kneeling during the anthem. They also expected those who did to receive some criticism.
“We assumed we were going to get some backlash. We thought there would be slurs or booing, and we got a lot more support than we expected,” Nur-Awaleh added.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 students, teachers and staff were at the homecoming assembly, Nur-Awaleh said. Most stood for the anthem.
The kneeling protesters were on the floor or the sidelines, but many students who were in the stands remained seated during the Star Spangled Banner, she said.
Senior Liliana Wang said most of the students who participated in the protest are white.
“It’s important that not only African-American people are protesting. It’s important that people from all races, and that includes white people as well, should stand, or in this case kneel, in unity for the cause,” Wang said.
Wang said that on “Spirit Day” last Monday, about 90 students wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts, provided by the local Bloomington-Normal Black Lives chapter.
Wang said protesters renamed the day “America Monday,” because “We want an America that protects the rights of all, in particular the African-American community."
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