Watkins Mill High School’s football team, the Wolverines, are the latest athletics team to join a growing number protesting racial inequality in the nation by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem at games. And while threats against the Maryland team have mounted from outside the school, officials, students, parents, and the larger community, continue to support their efforts to raise awareness.
Members of the Watkins Mill High School football team are the latest athletes to protest racial inequality by taking a knee during the national anthem.
In their second week of kneeling, the Gaithersburg, Md. team is standing in solidarity with San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest over the oppression many Blacks and other minorities face in America.
Watkins Mill High School’s head coach, Michael Brown, chose to stand, but told The Washington Post, he had no authority to promote the students standing or kneeling, though he seemed concerned over the safety of the students following a week of outside threats.
“It’s amazing how hypocritical some adults are being about the rights of Americans to protest against injustice, when that is a founding principle of this country,” Watkins Mill sophomore Ashley Oswald told the AFRO. “So many comments on social media talk about the players as if they are simply following the lead of Kaepernick and have no minds of their own. The reality is that these are the young men who face the profiling and discrimination.”
The school received dozens of threats, according to Principal Carol Goddard, mostly that the tires of the players would be slashed.
“Because football is America’s sport, if football players do it, it’s the best way to draw attention,” Watkins Mill senior Brian McNeary told the Washington Post. “Most of the threats are coming from adults and I feel like that’s childish of them, to be honest. We’re doing a good job of remaining calm and dealing with it and we’re working through it together.”
Minneapolis South Girls Volleyball team, as well as Seattle’s Garfield High football team have joined national leaguers who are also taking a knee during the National Anthem, including Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
Some older residents and grandparents of students voiced resentment toward the students for the protest, saying the sanctity of the anthem had little to do with fighting injustice.
“It’s the unraveling of society as far as I’m concerned. These kids have no understanding of what real sacrifice or what the National Anthem stands for. No one should disrespect it,” Gaithersburg resident Donald Boston told the AFRO. “This is the greatest country in the world and if there is still racism and things to upset people, they should find another way of discussing it without disparaging the flag or our anthems.”
Others, continue to straddle the fence.
“I think these young people should be commended for being proactive and socially conscious in their protests of injustice,” Watkins Mill High parent, John Morgan told the AFRO. “I can see both sides of the argument, but the adults are demonstrating that they have more reverence for a song than the injustices faced by their fellow Americans. Our country was built around the idea of public protest and these young adults are doing so with dignity.”