John Legend is stepping into what may be America’s most polarizing controversy at the moment.
And it centers around America’s long-time theme song.
Last week, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines for something he did away from the field.
Just a few feet away from the field, to be exact.
Prior to a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick sat down on the bench during the Star-Spangled Banner.
He bucked the tradition of standing and taking off one’s hat in order to show respect for his country and he later explained why to NFL.com.
“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.
“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.
Here is a photo of Kaepernick taking his
The quarterback did not cite any specific incidents, but it stands to reason that he’s motivated to make this protest by the disturbing number of African-American deaths at the hands of police officers in 2016.
For instance, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile both lost their lives in confrontations with authorities in June and July, respectively.
Neither man appeared to be an imminent threat to the lives of the cops at the time.
Kaepernick’s stance has elicited strong opinions from both sides, with critics aghast over the way he his spitting on his own country…
… and defenders saying he’s just exercising his First Amendment right to make a larger point.
On which side does Legend fall? Team Kaepernick, it would seem.
After tweeting an article about the Star-Spangled Banner that claims an often unsung verse in the Francis Scott Key classic “literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans,” Legend referred to the song as “weak.”
My vote is for “America the Beautiful,” he wrote, offering up that track as the new national anthem.
Legend then posed a question to those hating so hard on Kaepernick.
These people absent-mindedly stand up during sporting events just because they’ve been told to, but are they even aware of the basis behind the song?
Moreover, do they even like it?
“For those defending the current anthem, do you really truly love that song? I don’t and I’m very good at singing it. Like, one of the best,” he Tweeted.
It’s true. John Legend can wail!
Since his initial protest, the back-up signal-caller has made it clear that he’ll continue to sit “to stand with the people that are being oppressed.”
“To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.
There’s people being murdered unjustly and [people are]not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”
This sort of stance isn’t new to anyone who has been following Kaepernick on social media.
The athlete has been outspoken when it comes to similar issues, providing his 845,000 Twitter followers and 1.3 million Instagram followers with plenty of updates about racial injustices.
“This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all – and it’s not happening for all right now,” he says.
Do you agree with him? Do you think this is the proper way to stage a protest?
And, be honest, wouldn’t America the Beautiful be a better song for us all to sing anyway?