After what played out over the weekend with pro sports teams across the country, students at Encinal High School in Alameda held their own anthem protest Monday afternoon.
“I’m inviting you to take a knee or stand for our national anthem,” says a girl into a microphone to dozens of students who showed up.
These students wanted to do something symbolic as a way to protect their basic freedoms of speech and expression.
They gathered around the schools flag pole while Whitney Houston’s rendition of the national anthem played.
They say they are responding “peacefully”, to President Trump’s inflammatory comments in Alabama on Friday when he said that any NFL player who takes a knee during the national anthem should be fired.
Kevin Gorham teaches at the school.
“You would have thought religion and politics was the bad place to talk at the dinner table – now it’s sports and politics and who knew,” he says. “Sports was supposed to be that release, that escape, that distraction – and now politics is bringing them together in a negative way. Our athletes are doing what is symbolic of what the rest of the country is doing because they want to have freedom of voice and freedom of expression.”
Though these high school students can’t vote yet, they say they are doing what they feel is right for themselves, their future and the country .
Delayo Faatiliga is a senior who plays varsity football.
“To me his comments were uncalled for, I feel like he could have handled it in a better way,” he says. “I chose to come out here to put my hand up during the pledge of allegiance, to take a stand for what he said.”
“The circle is important, and now the country’s circle is fractured,” adds Gorham.
So on this Monday, many students were kneeling during the national anthem, some were standing, and some left campus. According to students, all those personal choices were the right ones.
Students said the turnout was amazing and they were glad to see their school united — something that hasn’t happened like this in a long time.