A Minnesota teacher chosen as one of the country’s top educators decided to take a knee during the national anthem at the college football championship game earlier this week
“I chose to kneel as a way to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people,” Kelly D. Holstine said afterwards, according to The Washington Post.
Holstine — a 46-year-old high school English teacher at the Tokata Learning Center in Shakopee — was being honored as one of the nation’s “Teachers of the Year” before the national anthem was sung.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were also standing on the field when Holstine knelt in protest.
“Given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people. Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during [the] Nat’l Anthem because, ‘No one is free until we are all free,’ ” Holstine explained on Twitter on Monday, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.
Honored as State Teachers of the Year at NCAA Champ FB Game. Given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people. Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, “No one is free until we are all free” (MLK). #imwithkap #blacklivesmatter #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/DimP3pBtBn
— Kelly D. Holstine (she/her) (@kellydholstine) January 14, 2020
Kneeling during the national anthem became a contentious national issue in 2016 when reporters noticed then-San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was kneeling during the anthem before games kicked off.
Kaepernick, 32, said at the time that he was kneeling to protest racial inequality in the United States and continued to do so throughout the remainder of his playing days in the NFL.
His protest drew national attention, including backlash from the conservatives, such as President Trump.
Kaepernick, who led the 49ers all the way to the Super Bowl in 2012, hasn’t played in the league since Jan. 1, 2017.
He retweeted Holstine’s tweet explaining why she knelt during the anthem.
Last year, Holstine reportedly declined an invitation to visit the White House to celebrate her being honored as one of the nation’s top teachers. She cited Trump’s anti-LGBTQ government.
“The words and practices and policies of this administration have been filled with a lot of hate toward the LGBTQ community, so I didn’t feel comfortable in that environment,” Holstine told The Hill.
Holstine recently gave a TED Talk in which she explained that teachers need to be more than allies when it comes to social causes.
“Allies are wonderful and we need them, but it is not enough for educators to just be allies,” she said. “We need them to be advocates too.”
- Sean Neumann