Reactions to the National Football League

You can't pledge allegiance to something that has [no] allegiance towards you.(1) - Diavian Gunner

I Know My Rights

The U.S. National Football League recently ruled that players who kneeled during the national anthem would be fined. Thus, interviewers asked the narrators to describe their personal views on the importance and significance of kneeling during the national anthem. A handful of narrators called attention to the media’s twisted portrayal of Colin Kaepernick and the colleagues that decided to join him in kneeling. They felt that most news reports, both broadcasted and published, aimed to depict the participating football players as bad people only interested in protesting against veterans and the country. As a result of this web of deception, narrators believed that the public forgot the initial reason for Kaepernick's kneeling.

However, as a whole, every narrator remained open-minded to the movement. Even for Ashley Pricher and Aaron Taylorthe former having received military training while the latter actively served in the Army National Guardthey understood the significance behind the N.F.L players taking a knee during the national anthem. Neither narrator viewed it as disrespectful towards the soldiers, rather they saw it as a direct reaction to the lyrics of the actual song itself.




Christhiena Stinson

"It was because in the lyrics of the national anthem it’s what they’re saying about the land of the free, home of the brave, stuff like that, and it doesn’t apply for the black community cause’ we’re not free; most of our black people are in jail. All of the stuff that they’re saying inside the national anthem is pretty much tended to the white men, not necessarily the black community or black people period. So, it’s contradicting. So, I’m not gonna stand up for you if you’re not talking about me."(2) - Christhiena Stinson

Nicha Smith

"As a country we’ve proven not to be united, especially when we voted in a president that wanted to separate us. So, what is so wrong about taking that knee to say, 'Hey, we [are] supposed to [be] singing something that unites us, but as a country we’re not united right now.'"(3) - Nicha Smith

Many narrators “loved it” and found it a “great idea.”(4) To them, the choice to kneel during the national anthem represented something bigger than the flag, the veterans, and the women and men currently serving. It symbolized the racial injustice prevalent in the country, specifically drawing attention to the bias and discrimination the black community experienced. As a result, some narrators questioned how they could be asked to stand for a flag that failed to represent them. In her interview, Elizabeth Wright recalled her grandfather’s warning that advised her not to join the military, asking her why risk her life for a country that would not reciprocate the gesture. Reflecting on this, Wright acknowledged that while most people viewed the flag as a symbol of freedom and individual rights, this did not necessarily mean it represented every American:

Elizabeth Wright

"And I said, 'I think you’re right, but does America stand for black people as a whole?'"(5) - Elizabeth Wright

These narrators “firmly believed that they have the right to do what they want in America,” and this included “[standing] up for something” they believed in.(6) 

A few narrators felt hesitant and unsure of how to approach the situation. In these interviews, they all discussed how they participated in standing to recite the pledge of allegiance as kids. Although still accepting and sympathetic to the movement, their thoughts on the event remained conflicted between fighting for their rights and continuing to do something that they’ve always been taught to honor.

The Ambassador of Conscience Award

1. Diavian Gunner, interview by Julia Pavlow, November 14th, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

2. Christhiena Stinson, interview by Alicen Reigel, May 9th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

3. Nicha Smith, interview by Meranda Pfamatter, April 30th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

4. Unnamed Narrator, interview by Riley Sharp, April 7th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

5. Elizabeth Wright, interview by Michael Lynch and Eliana Pablon, December 6th, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

6. Jordan Yates, interview by Tyler Funk, September 28th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

Reactions to the National Football League