President Trump and first lady Melania Trump were not the only honored guests on the field Monday night as the national anthem was sung before the start of the College Football Playoff National Championship game in New Orleans.
Several dozen 2019 winners in the Teachers of the Year program were there, too — and one staged a quiet protest of the president’s policies. She knelt during the singing of the anthem, an action that a number of National Football League players have taken to protest racism.
“I chose to kneel as a way to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people,” said Kelly D. Holstine, the 2019 Teacher of the Year from Minnesota. Afterward, she tweeted:
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” #imwithkap #blacklivesmatter #LGBTQ
The kneeling protests began in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, first sat down and then knelt during the singing of the anthem to protest police shootings of unarmed black men. Trump lambasted the players, and said those who knelt “maybe shouldn’t be in the country.”
The White House did not provide a comment about the action by Holstine, who last year was one of two educators who boycotted an Oval Office ceremony featuring the president and state program winners.
Holstine said she told some of her teaching colleagues that she planned to kneel during the anthem and asked whether they wanted to participate. Nobody else did, she said, “but they all understood why I was doing it and were supportive.”
- Valerie Strauss