The controversy of protesting during the National Anthem has turned into one of the most defining characterizations of this moment in history. After statements made by President Trump last week, including asking the NFL to make policy mandating players to stand during the National Anthem, the controversy has intensified.
On Thursday, American writer and civil rights activist, Shaun King, discovered a letter announcement sent by the principal of Parkway High School mandating student-athletes to stand during the National Anthem. The letter cites rules of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA), that allow principals “to make decisions regarding student participation in the National Anthem while competing in athletic contests and games.” These rules were put in place after Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the National Anthem.
It seems Parkway High School’s principle, Waylon Bates, was only following the orders their Superintendent gave the Bossier school system. Bossier Schools Superintendent, Scott Smith, announced “it is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans.” One school official told Shreveport Times that punishments can be anything from one-game suspension to forcing extra laps if he or she chooses to kneel or other forms of protest during the National Anthem.
This decision by Parkway High School and the Bossier Schools Superintendent can be seen in both positive light and negative light. Although standing for the national anthem makes students seem patriotic, what is patriotism if it must be forced. Some have even made jokes saying if the president wants to mandate that every citizen stand for the National Anthem, then he should go to North Korea.
In a 1943 case regarding if students must stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, West Virginia v. Barnette, the Supreme Court ruled that “no official high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
The Bossier and Caddo school districts are separated by a narrow river. In Caddo, the Green Oaks Performing Arts Academy announced that they would stand with arms locked during the national anthem. Locking arms has become a substitution to kneeling, which teams across the country are using. What are the differences between these neighboring districts? Caddo has twice the amount of residents than Bossier. Furthermore, 40 percent of Caddo’s population is black while less than 19 percent of Bossier’s population is black. Are communities only sympathetic to issues facing black Americans if they have black Americans in their community? Let us know your thoughts.
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