A nation, a knee, a problem

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A nation, a knee, a problem
(Left to right) Dr. Lusharon Wiley, Margie McKinnon, John Pace and Quincy “Q” Hull led the Conversations of Race & Reconciliation: History of Protest in America forum at the UWF Historic Trust Building on Oct. 19. The discussion was based upon the recent NFL protest of taking a knee during the National Anthem.

By Chris Sharp

“The land of the free and the home of the brave” has become more than just a line from the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Our national anthem has become the American slogan.

Recently, a dispute regarding football players taking a knee during the pledge has been ignited by the peaceful protest of police brutality launched by one member of the NFL.

This controversy has opened yet another clash of ideals in our polarized nation reaching deep into local communities.

It is important when discussing the NFL protests that the people of this country don’t forget the reason behind this stance: police brutality and racial inequality, not a disrespect of the flag. Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, last season started a protest during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers by sitting during the National Anthem. Kaepernick went unnoticed when he sat for the first two preseason games. It was before the third game when he gained national attention.

In a statement to the NFL two days after the game, Kaepernick finally spoke.

“This stance wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people who don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and affect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”

It’s been over a year since Kaepernick began his protest, and the conversation has made its way into the Pensacola community.

A forum for a community discussion on race relations, led by activist and poet Quincy “Q” Hull, was held on October 19th at the University West Florida Historic Trust Building on October 19th.

Hull made it clear to the audience how he felt about the anthem and pointed out the history of unjust treatment towards the African-American culture. To prove his point, he brought with him a substantial amount of fact-based literature such as “100 Years of Lynchings” and “Stolen Lives: Killed by law enforcement”.

“This anthem was never meant for us [African-Americans],” said Hull.

In the third stanza of the original anthem, which was written in 1814, it states “no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” Key was referring to the African-Americans who fought alongside the British during the American Revolution, in hopes of being granted freedom after the war.

“We [African-Americans] were still slaves in 1814, so it doesn’t fit me anyway,” Hull went on to explain. “I’m not supposed to stand because it wasn’t written for me.”

There was a fairly even mix between black and white individuals attending the forum.  There was an overwhelming agreement that we must come together. Some wondered what change they could make to help strengthen the change in Pensacola.

One woman in the audience voiced her opinion by stating “using your white-privilege to combat racism will be a start.”

Dr. Lusharon Wiley, moderator of the forum, pointed out the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s where Martin Luther King persuaded many of the donors (religious, white and affluent) to get in front of the cause for racial equality, helped bring forth the change in America. This is equally important today. If you see injustice, stand up, say something, and do something.

Several athletes in the NFL are now in the spotlight for taking a knee in support of what Colin Kaepernick started a year ago. NFL team owners have met with their players and other owners to discuss how to continue protesting peacefully. It continues to be the center of attention during every NFL game.

Hull plans to keep speaking about racial inequality and the right to protest.

“It’s about respect for other people’s culture, and I think that’s what America has always had a problem with.”