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Take a knee, take a stance: Why the #TakeaKnee movement is an expression of basic American rights

Over a year ago, former San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick began sitting during the national anthem.
While he first began during the NFL’s pre-season games, it wasn’t until the 49ers’ third game that he was noticed. Then, the story of the entire 2016 NFL season developed.
Kaepernick never spoke about why he was doing this, this was just his form of peaceful protest. Simply, it was a right all Americans have protected by the first amendment of the constitution. When asked about it, Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color, to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid to leave and getting away with murder.”
From then on, the story took on a life of its own, inspiring and disgusting Americans alike. Those who were inspired agreed that our nation does not embody the meanings expressed in the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. Those who disagreed saw the failure to participate in these acts as a blatant disrespect. Neither side is wrong, everyone has a right to their personal opinion.
This brings us to the issue: while at a speaking engagement in Alabama, President Donald Trump brought up the issue of NFL players kneeling for the national anthem prior to the game. Trump said “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 continued by acknowledging their freedom to do so, but that the action is disrespectful to both our heritage and everything the nation stands for. In the wake of this, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with many NBA stars and NFL team owners have all expressed their deep disappointment with Trump’s remarks.
The reaction has inspired the #TakeAKnee movement nationwide, where protesting citizens have decided to kneel, sit, lock arms or not even show up for the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem.
The gesture shows solidarity and unity opposed division. In other words, it displays that the NFL supports its players regardless of their personal backgrounds or beliefs. No one is a “son of a bitch” simply because of an opinion or belief he has. Beyond the NFL, many others have decided to participate in the movement, including Stevie Wonder, MLB player Bruce Maxwell and singer Rico Lavelle.
The movement is expected to grow with more people standing united regardless of the differences we have. That’s the purpose of the time we allocate for the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance — to stand as “one nation under God.” The time allows Americans to recognize that we are the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Printed on the US quarter is the seal of the United States which contains our motto established in the Declaration of Independence — “E Pluribus Unum.” When translated, the phrase means “out of many, one.” We all come from various backgrounds, cultures and beliefs, but we are still one nation.
In response to the divisive comments made by Donald Trump, I will use the time allocated to stand with my fellow Americans in the #TakeAKnee movement. Being designated as a “son of a bitch” simply because of a difference one may have is wrong. It is those differences that truly make our country great and will allow me to proudly join in standing up for what’s right.

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