Meghan Linsey Explains Her Decision to ‘Take a Knee’ at Tennessee Titans Game
On Sunday afternoon (Sept. 24), Meghan Linsey made headlines when she, after she finished singing the National Anthem, knelt down on one knee in solidarity with protesting NFL players. The singer admits in a new interview that she was "absolutely terrified" prior to her performance, but understood the importance of -- and the potential objections to and ramifications of -- what she was doing.
"Obviously I made a name for myself in country music, and I knew what the backlash would be ... But I have to go into my gut and my heart, and I knew that was the right thing to do [on Sunday]," Linsey tells Yahoo! She admits that the Tennessee Titans' and Seattle Seahawks' decisions to stay in their locker rooms during the Anthem, which meant that no one would be kneeling with her on the field, upped her nerves, "[b]ut it was obviously just meant to be that I was there in this moment, and given this opportunity.”
During Sunday’s NFL games, numerous players and teams performed gestures of protest as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung prior to kickoff. They were responding to comments by President Donald Trump, made on Friday (Sept. 22) at a campaign rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange and on Twitter on Saturday (Sept. 23), about players such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick choosing to kneel during the National Anthem in order to protest racial inequality in the United States.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out, you’re fired!’” Trump said during the event on Friday. On Saturday, via Twitter, he added, “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. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
On Twitter and during a Sunday press conference, Trump continued to defend his statements. A number of NFL teams have released statements condemning Trump’s comments or otherwise shown their disapproval for what he said.
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Linsey only decided to kneel following her National Anthem performance on Sunday morning: "I was thinking about the things that [the president] said," she explains, "and I thought, ‘Man, it really does need to be addressed, and I think I’m in a position to take a stand and hopefully make a difference.’" She adds that she chose to go forward with her National Anthem performance, rather than decline to sing, and to stand while singing because "[s]tanding during the Anthem was just as important as showing that I do stand with the players and their protest at the end.”
In her interview with Yahoo!, Linsey says that she wants those following this story to know that she "love[s] America," considers herself patriotic and supports the military. Her decision to kneel isn't about any of that: It's about taking a stand against racism and racially motivated violence.
“I didn’t go out there talking negatively about our president or anyone else. I was just peacefully demonstrating my right to stand in solidarity with the NFL players," Linsey notes. "I did it all with love, and as respectfully as possible ... That’s where people are confused and they’re mistaken. For me, it was about giving a voice to the voiceless and standing with my fellow humans. We’re not unpatriotic ... we just don’t love what’s happening right now."
On social media, Linsey has received both critical and supportive messages -- "a mixed reaction," she says. While on the field at the game itself, the singer says, she heard both boos and cheers of support.
"I just always want to stand on the right side of history, and I always want to demonstrate love," Linsey says, "so that was my ultimate goal.”
Linsey -- formerly one-half of the country duo Steel Magnolia, now a solo artist -- was one of two National Anthem singers to kneel following their performances on Sunday. At the Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons game, R&B / soul artist Rico Lavelle ended his performance by taking a knee as well.
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