The movement by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand during the national anthem because of his views on the country’s treatment of African Americans and minorities, continues to spark conversation, with many being forced to choose a side.
Kaepernick is taking legal action against the NFL, after accusing them of blackballing him since 2017 due to his kneeling during the anthem in protest of police brutality and racism.
One of the major controversies that have erupted from Kap’s protest is whether black artists should perform during the Super Bowl. While artists like Rihanna and Cardi B have turned down invitations to perform during the world’s biggest game night, other artists are stepping up to the plate.
Soul legend Gladys Knight recently accepted the honor of performing the National Anthem for this year’s Super Bowl, and the 74-year-old is hoping she can give The Star-Spangled Banner “back its voice.”
Knights performance was announced this week and was met with some controversy, as some people accused her of siding with the National Football League (NFL) in their fight with Kaepernick.
However, Gladys insisted in a statement that her decision to take on the anthem performance at the Super Bowl has nothing to do with her political beliefs and everything to do with “using my voice for good.”
“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” she said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”
She continued, “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good – I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”
Gladys concluded: “No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it. I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us.”
Gladys makes a thought-provoking point about her own fight to make it to this stage!
Maroon 5 has accepted the honor to perform during the 2019 Super Bowl show, and their only black member, PJ Morton, says his dream gig was initially “spoiled.”
Asked if the backlash had spoiled what would typically be a career highlight for an artist, Morton told The Associated Press, “It definitely did at first. It spoiled it for me because you just want to be happy and excited to play, and some of the negativity definitely made it not as fun initially.”
Being African-American, Morton faced reveals he faced an internal “conflict” about working for the NFL in light of the continued Kaepernick scandal, and it’s not something his bandmates took “lightly” either.
“I guess I had to come to the conclusion that you can be employed by a corporation and still support the things that are being fought against,” he explained. “I can clearly say I am against police brutality against black and brown people at a higher rate, and I am for peacefully protesting. I stand for those things strongly… I think we can perform for the NFL and the players can play for the NFL, and we can support Kap at the same time.”
He continued, “Our job as musicians is to provide a service and make people feel good, and I think that’s going to be our mission – just to have a good time and do what we do. I’m excited to play on that stage, man. I watched halftime shows my whole life. I want to be there.”
Although he wasn’t asked to perform, diamond-selling rapper Nelly has defended the choice of fellow emcee Travis Scott, who will also hit the stage.
“I don’t see the big deal on people upset about who’s performing at halftime,” Nelly told TMZ. “Because what people have to understand … if you’re really against the NFL, the halftime show is not what you should be concerned about. If you’re watching the NFL … if you’re supporting your team … that’s how [the owners] get paid. They don’t get paid through the halftime show.”
Nelly also spoke on whether or not Kap had the right to criticize Travis over his choice to perform.
“I wouldn’t say that he has a point in the sense of … I mean he has his own reasons but again … if you watch the NFL every Sunday, you support your team, that’s how they make their money,” he said. “If you’re trying to make a stand against the NFL, you should probably not watch it on Sunday or you should not go to the games … the halftime show is irrelevant.”
When asked if he would consider doing the Super Bowl Halftime show if he was asked, Nelly responded, “Probably.”
Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi will be taking the stage during the Halftime Show.
Justin Timberlake headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show last year.
To really make a just opinion, instead of just being a follower, you must understand all sides, as well as the history, especially for an artist like Gladys Knight.