A gesture of protest turned into a symbol of solidarity over the weekend following a Twitter spree from Pres. Trump attacking NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem. The gesture, which originated last year as a symbol of protest against police brutality and institutional racism, morphed on Sunday (Sept. 24) into a number of teams locking arms or refusing to come out for the Anthem, as well as artists taking to social media to express their support for the actions.
Some took it a step further, such as at the Seahawks-Titans game, where Anthem singer Meghan Linsey took a knee at the end of her performance.
The symbolic gesture quickly ballooned beyond the field, with other artists going down on a knee at shows around the nation, including De La Soul, who went down on a knee during their set at the Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas. At his show in Hamburg, Germany, John Legend went down on a knee and raised a fist in the air, a gesture that accompanied a powerful essay the singer wrote for Slate, in which he wrote, “The players’ protests are important. Because of them, almost every day of the week, we talk about racial disparities. People across this country are suddenly thinking about what it must feel like to be a person of color, watch an officer shoot an unarmed man, and walk away with a pension.”
On Sunday, Prophets of Rage leader Chuck D. posted an image of the all-star group wearing Colin Kaepernick jerseys and taking a knee in concert.
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) September 24, 2017
Ice Cube also weighed in, repurposing Trump’s attack on NFL players who don’t stand for the Anthem back on the former reality TV star. “Never let a son of a bitch distract you from doing what’s right,” wrote Cube along with an unflattering image of the president.
— Ice Cube (@icecube) September 24, 2017
They joined a slew of other artists who took a knee in protest over the weekend, including Pharrell Williams, who said, “If I want to get on my knees right now for the people of my city, for the people of my state, that’s what this flag is for,” during Dave Matthews‘ Concert for Charlottesville on Sunday night (Sept. 24). Both Matthews and Stevie Wonder took a knee during the show, with Wonder intoning, “I take a knee for America and two knees in prayer for our world.”
During the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee, on Sunday, Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder took a knee before going into his second song of the evening, PJ’s “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.” Also joining the fray was J. Cole, who called for a boycott of the NFL until a “3rd party investigator” determines whether former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who began the concept of taking a knee during the National Anthem as a form of protest against — has been unfairly denied a job as punishment for his protest.
God bless every player that finds courage to kneel today. But the real power comes from you deciding to not watch.
— J. Cole (@JColeNC) September 24, 2017
A parade of other stars voiced their opinions on the issue on social media in light of Trump’s inflammatory calls for NFL team owners to fire or suspend players for not standing during the anthem. “I know I shouldn’t talk sports,” Mayer wrote. “But trump’s comments re:NFL further prove he’s hellbent on poisoning all aspects of American life.”
I know I shouldn’t talk sports, but trump’s comments re:NFL further prove he’s hellbent on poisoning all aspects of American life.
— John Mayer (@JohnMayer) September 24, 2017
Nick Cannon posted a blistering 4-minute clip on Sunday called “Stand 4 What?” in which he rhymes about his support for the protesters over a montage of clips chronicling incidents of police violence against black citizens and the legacy of slavery. “Stand 4 what?/ A song about war, not freedom/ That’s how you wanna lead ’em?/ Brainwashing your people?/ That’s how you wanna treat ’em?”
Check out some of the other responses:
All these football team owners talking and all lat but when is y’all going to hire Colin Kaepernick ?–
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) September 24, 2017
— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) September 24, 2017
I think: By kneeling, players don’t disrespect the flag.They ask US to respect the flag. They ask us to make the anthem true for all of us.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) September 24, 2017
Colin Kaepernick, began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, to highlight, he has said, police brutality & racial injustice.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) September 25, 2017
This shit breaks my heart that mother fuckers want to keep their foots on our necks!!! God bless you brother and thank you for your candor. pic.twitter.com/brWWwZ7f4J
— Sean Diddy Combs (@diddy) September 25, 2017
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 24, 2017
Knee on my next red carpet
— Lakeith Stanfield (@lakeithlakeith) September 24, 2017
— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) September 24, 2017
— Billie Joe Armstrong (@billiejoe) September 25, 2017
— Pearl Jam (@PearlJam) September 25, 2017
Hey Kelly, what I’m saying is that we want people to stand up and pay respect for our #NationalAnthem everyday! ?—-
— Richard James (@RichardMJs) September 25, 2017
Too much respect for everyone who took a knee for what they stand for ?–
— Sean Don (@BigSean) September 25, 2017
— T.I. (@Tip) September 24, 2017