By Brittany Webb, Sports Editor
Posted 8:15 PM EST, Thurs., Sept. 29, 2016
As the 2016 AT&T Nation’s Football Classic game was set to begin Saturday, Sept. 17, the Howard University cheerleaders made a move that put the spotlight on them before the game and for days following.
During the playing of the national anthem, the cheerleaders joined San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s social movement. Instead of standing with their right hand of their hearts, the team took a knee in protest.
Salute to the Howard University Cheerleaders for exercising their right to kneel during the national anthem. ✊? pic.twitter.com/dgTk52QoXD
— Zachary Johnson (@ZachJ2019) September 17, 2016
“We know that as student-athletes at the prestigious Howard University, her students, faculty and staff have always been at the forefront of many causes,” the team said in a press release. “Therefore, we do not take our decision to join this cause lightly or without the knowledge of the history of a standard of activism and global consciousness.”
Despite the attention that Kaepernick received for his protest along with fellow pro athletes, the team says their kneeling was not done for the spotlight.
“We are proud of our decision and realize that our actions represent something greater than ourselves,” the team said. “However, they are just that, our actions, each individually and representative of each of our own personal feelings.”
Although the picture appeared to be the whole team, the spokespersons of the team clarified that not all members participated. Though the team discussed kneeling before doing so, all members were not obligated to do so.
“There is no directive or plan for all members to continue to or begin to join any cause,” the team said. “Every cheerleader will continue to make decisions, which best suit their personal beliefs.”
As spectators of the social movement have accused participants of hating America, the team says they feel differently.
“America, this great country that we live in, is the greatest in the world, but it is not perfect and its imperfections are the ugly face of injustice,” the team said. “We see this played out not only against African-Americans, but also many other races, religions, and sexual orientations. We recognize the sacrifice that so many of our military and service people make for our country and are respectful of and honor their service.”
Since their protest of the injustices present in America, two cases of African-American males were shot and killed by police garnished national attention. Terence Crutcher was unarmed. Police say Keith Scott was armed when he was killed by officer Brentley Vinson. However, his family says he only had a book, which he was reading.
Since the shootings, Crutcher’s accused murderer, officer Betty Shelby, was charged with first-degree manslaughter and released on $50,000 bail after turning herself in.
Howard University Cheerleders release statement pic.twitter.com/wpVc48xhVY
— Howard Cheer (@HowardCheer) September 22, 2016