The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


History Behind The Headlines

Last year, American football player and current free agent Colin Kaepernick began quietly taking a knee during the national anthem in protest to police brutality. The response was anything but quiet. The resulting media firestorm questioned everything from if the act was unpatriotic to what style of protest, especially by African Americans, is considered acceptable by other groups in the United States.

On Friday, Donald Trump attacked national anthem protestors by saying at an Alabama rally, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” This statement reignited the controversy in a big way. Trump has doubled down on his statements and even rescinded an invitation to visit the White House, extended to current NBA champions the Golden State Warriors, on Saturday via Twitter.

BackStory dove into the history behind the Star Spangled Banner last September with former Washington Post editor Jefferson Morley. According to Morley, the song “embodies how racism and patriotism became entwined in America.” Read the full Q&A.

BackStory also looked at the history of protest and the many forms resistance has taken in America. For more, check out this episode from March: “Taking It To The Streets: Protest In America.”

About History Behind The Headlines: When breaking news and history collide, BackStory brings the context. This new blog feature takes trending news items and, whenever possible, offers BackStory host commentary or segments from previous episodes that provide a historical viewpoint.

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