Politics and civics

Taking a knee: high school athletes across the country join the conversation

Professional and non-professional athletes,fans, coaches, bands and cheerleaders have joined Colin Kaepernick’s consciousness-raising by kneeling for the anthem.

Updated September 25, 2016
On August 26, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the singing of the national anthem prior to a Green Bay Packers game.

Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid knelt during the singing of the national anthem before the team’s September 1 preseason game against the San Diego Chargers.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane sat on the bench during the playing of the anthem before the team’s game against the Oakland Raiders.

These professional football players — and others — have sought to bring attention to social inequality and the deaths of minority men at the hands of America’s police.

High school teams across the country are also taking a knee, many to community criticism.

“The highest court in the land ruled long ago, and it’s been upheld time after time, that students do not leave their free speech rights at the schoolhouse gate,” said Bob Farrace, director of public affairs for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. He noted that the Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that public school students in Iowa could wear black armbands to silently protest the Vietnam War.

Jeremi Duru, professor of sports law at American University in Washington, D.C., comments on the movement:

“Throughout the nation, athletes on different levels are finding their voice and recognizing that they have a platform,” he said. “We haven’t seen this level of athlete activism in nearly half a century. This is a movement.”

In the wake of video showing Terence Crutcher being shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, John Pavlovitz, a pastor in Raleigh NC wrote:

White friends, if your immediate response to the shooting of Terence Crutcher is to try and justify why he’s dead, instead of asking why he was shot next to his disabled vehicle by those charged with as protecting and serving him, you may be the problem here. If you aren’t greatly burdened with grief for his family and you aren’t moved with compassion for the way scenes like this repeatedly kick people of color in the gut, you need to ask yourself some difficult questions about your own patriotism, your own appreciation of freedom, your own civic responsibility.

This post will attempt to document high school demonstrations as well as those featuring other non-professional athletes. Jump to the state roster.

As seen through Twitter



The State Roster

Non-professional athletes — collegiate, high school, and prep — as well as fans and coaches in 23 states and the District of Columbia have joined Kaepernick’s consciousness-raising.






  • Palm Beach Lakes High School; three football players [“Take a knee, people riot,” running back Jalen Wright said Tuesday. “Take a bullet, people quiet.”]











New Jersey

New York

North Carolina


  • Brunswick High School (Cleveland suburb); Rodney Axson is reportedly the first high school football player to follow Kaepernick’s lead and “the reaction to his protest was vitriolic”




  • Beaumont; every 11- and 12- year-old team prep football team member took a knee, as did some coaches
  • Cedar Hill High School; cheerleaders
  • Dallas; five members of the SMU marching band
  • DeSota High School; most cheerleaders, football team, volleyball team (separate events)



Washington, D.C.

West Virginia



Some have compared this student behavior with a coach leading a high school team in prayer.

It’s a false comparison.

First, the Garfield coach did not lead the students but followed:

“This came from them,” said head coach Joey Thomas. “This came from the kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I support it 110 percent and that’s where my mind and heart was, but this is what they wanted. And I think that’s what makes this so special. This is student driven.”

Second, the law on prayer in schools is not new:

“The law in this area has been settled for a long time,” Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said. “Parents get to decide what religion, if any, their children are exposed to, and no public school official may interfere in that relationship.”



By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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