Stevie Wonder took to his knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who previously knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
Before performing hits such as “Higher Ground” and “Overjoyed” at Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Saturday, the 67-year-old singer started his headlining set by addressing the controversy reignited by President Donald Trump’s most recent remarks about NFL player who kneel during the national anthem.
“Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America,” Wonder said as he knelt with his son Kwame Morris. “Not just one knee, but I’m taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, leaders of our world and our globe. Amen.”
He added, “I wanted to say that prayer before I serve you my musical meal.”
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During a rally speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’”
He followed this up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Numerous celebrities — including Diddy — have also joined in standing behind the players, causing a resurgence of the #TakeAKnee hashtag on social media.
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In August 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines for refusing to stand for the national anthem.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”