Dontari Poe, defensive lineman for the Cowboys, recently made history by becoming the first Dallas player ever to kneel during the National Anthem. He’d previously mentioned that he was going to perform this protest.
While fans watched the season openers in the NFL to observe how players and organizations would react to the social and racial injustice against Blacks and minorities in the United States, Poe was the only player on the team to kneel. Antwaun Woods, Aldon Smith and Assistant Coach Leon Lett stood close with their hands on his shoulders.
Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, has spoken out in the past about kneeling during the anthem and how he was against it. But, with so much racial injustice going on in the country at this particular time, even he said that he wasn’t going to prohibit anybody on the team or in the organization who felt like kneeling from doing so. In fact, according to reports, Jones recently asked everyone on both sides of the issue to show the other side “grace”.
Dontari Poe told ESPN that he didn’t have any hard feelings against his teammates who decided that they were not going to kneel, and that it was simply his way of fighting racial injustice in America and bringing much-needed awareness to it.
Other NFL Teams Respond to ‘The Star Spangled Banner’
There were also several others in the league who had varied reactions to the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. For example, seven teams stayed in the locker room during the song on September 13th, the first Sunday of the NFL season. They were the Green Bay Packers, the Arizona Cardinals, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills.
One of the individual kneels during the National Anthem that was most recognized was from Frank Reich, the coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Him being a White coach made him one of the most prominent men to do it, and he realized that there was going to be some negative responses to his protest from people across the country.
“I understand that there will be a backlash,” he told the Indy Star Newspaper. “Which is why it’s really important, when you make a decision to do something as an individual or a team, you’ve got to have a lot of conviction behind it. I was comfortable with the conviction we had as a team, and I had as an individual, that it was the right to do.”
The Black National Anthem to Be Played Across the NFL
The NFL has directed teams to also play the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing during week one home games this 2020 season.
Word to the Black National Anthem. Image from Pinterest.
The song was first recited in the year 1900 by 500 children at an all-Black school in Stantonville, FL as a tribute to the U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. James Weldon Johnson, a school principal, civil rights activist and attorney, is who first created the song.
His brother, John Johnson, was who actually put music to the original poem, and that’s when it became a song officially. The NAACP then adopted the tune as the official Negro National Anthem in 1919, and is today known as the Black National Anthem.