In a direct attack against the position on the issue by U.S. President Donald Trump, who blasted the players for kneeling or showing any other sign of protest during the playing of anthem before games, Harris recently defended the athletes’ freedom to express themselves.
“When we sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, we rightly think about the brave men and women from all backgrounds who proudly defend the freedom of those they may never meet and people who will never know their names,” Harris, daughter of a Jamaican father, told a congregation from the altar of the First Congregational Church of Atlanta on its 150th anniversary.
“When we sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ we also think about those marching in the streets who demand that the ideals of that flag represent them too.”
Starting last year when quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the anthem in protest of injustice showed by law enforcement officers, especially against males of color. Athletes from several sports have come out in support of equality for all races.
This season, the movement gained rapid momentum in the National Football League (NFL) after Trump criticized Kaepernick and others, some who chose to sit during the “The Star-Spangled Banner”, who protested during the anthem. The president urged NFL team owners to fire protesters, but some owners joined the protesters.
Trump also called the protesting players “sons of bitches.”
Harris, a Democrat who represents California in the U.S. Senate and is being viewed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, rallied against the “forces of hate and division trying to tear us apart.” She said the U.S. is being confronted by racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism, which is dividing the nation, but athletes shouldn’t be “threatened or bullied” for their stance.
“Let’s speak the truth that when Americans demand recognition that their lives matter, or kneel to call attention to injustice, that that is an expression of free speech, protected by our Constitution, and they should not be threatened or bullied,” Harris reportedly said.