The head football coach at Woodrow Wilson High in Camden, N.J. penned a powerful op-ed explaining why he chose to take a knee with his team while the national anthem played during their most recent contest.
In an article posted at Philly.com, Preston Brown offered a powerful justification for his own choice to kneel, despite significant disagreement about the decision, including frankly disgusting actions from some who read about the incident in newspapers; among the emails and mail sent to Wilson players were “numerous” images of the Confederate flag and exhortations to leave the country.
Here’s the start of Brown’s first-person explainer at Philly.com. We highly recommend you consume the entire piece and consider the values it proclaims. Whether you agree with the sentiment behind it or not, it depicts powerful backlash and impact against some of those who have been most directly impacted by the socio-racial issues that continue to plague certain areas, and who have decided to take some measure of action themselves.
On Sept. 10, I took a knee when the national anthem began playing before our high school football game at Mike Rozier Stadium in East Camden. Most of the players on my team knelt, as did all of the coaches, including an Air Force veteran. We knelt – as we do when a player gets injured during a game – because we’re hurting.
One of my players is hurting from the recent time he walked into a store and the owner told his colleague in Spanish – not knowing that my player also spoke Spanish – to keep an eye on the cash register.
Another one of my players is hurting from the time this summer when, while on a college recruiting trip with me and other players in South Carolina, the police followed us as we walked to the beach. They interrogated us about where we were going, even though we were walking with our beach gear along the same route many white people were walking.
Me, I’m hurting for my current players. I’m hurting for my former players, like Jameer Bullard, an 18-year-old who was murdered last year on the same block in Camden where my younger brother was murdered five years earlier. And I’m hurting because of what I fear my two young black sons might experience.
That’s why we knelt. We did not intend any disrespect to the military – I have family members in the military – and we did not intend any disrespect to the police – I’m personally close with the Camden police chief.