Gladys Knight is a Motown legend. Her music was the soundtrack to some of the Civil Rights movements greatest moments, so it makes sense that she would consider herself somewhat of an authority on the social justice concerns of Black people in this country. This is exactly why her recent comments about former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick came as a bit of surprise. On Friday, the 74-year-old singer — who was recently tapped to sing the National Anthem next month at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta — told TMZ she thought it was “unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”
Knight’s comments were in direct response to the Kaepernick’s ongoing dispute with the NFL. In the fall of 2016, Kaepernick — then a member of San Francisco 49ers — decided to kneel during the singing of the national as a sign of protest against police brutality and socioeconomic inequality faced by Black people in America. Many feel Kaepernick’s protest resulted in him getting blackballed from the league.
Knight told TMZ that she understood and agreed with the intention of the 31-year-old athlete’s protest, but that she found Kaepernick’s use of the singing of the National Anthem to stage this protest to be inappropriate. “No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it.”
All eyes will be on another musical event happening at the Super Bowl on February 3. After much controversy, that was also rumored to involve Kaepernick, Travis Scott will be performing at the game’s halftime show.