California NAACP proposes abolishing 'Star-Spangled Banner' as national anthem
The president of California and Hawaii's NAACP chapters says Francis Scott Key's anthem is a 'racist song'
The national anthem and the flag have become a point of contention for the NFL, and the NAACP's California chapter has a solution: Change the anthem and start fresh. Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been the United States' national anthem since 1931, and singing it before sporting events has become a tradition. Also tradition: Standing and looking at the flag. Since some players began to sit or kneel during the anthem, the NFL has become embroiled in controversy.
The NAACP's reasoning for changing the anthem, however, isn't what some people may think. Alice Huffman, the president of California and Hawaii's NAACP chapters, said that it isn't out of protest. It's because of what the song itself stands for. "We're not trying to protest the flag at all," Huffman said via SF Gate. "We're protesting this racist song that has caused so much controversy in America, and we're just trying to get it removed. So, whatever comes out in the future as a national anthem, we can all stand proudly and sing it."
When Huffman talks about racism, she is referring to the part of the anthem that we don't sing. A third stanza that says:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore / That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion, / A home and a country, should leave us no more? / Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. / No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave: / And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, / O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Colin Kaepernick began his protest to speak out against racial injustice in the United States. California's NAACP is taking that a step further. Of the stanza, Huffman said "If you look at it, there's no way you can think it meant anything great for African-Americans."
Of course, a lot of things from earlier times had racist overtones. Go watch a Disney cartoon from the 1930s and see how comfortable that is. There is a very significant reason that the third stanza isn't sung, and to some the song is bigger than the meaning in the part that's forgotten.
"It's [a] significantly deeper meaning to an Air Force member, to a veteran, to a veteran in our community, than the perceived disrespect or the perceived racism of the third stanza," Air Force veteran Master Sgt. Ryan Peterson said, via SF Gate.
The NAACP is hoping that this proposal will gain traction, but based on fans' reactions to player protests, that will be a tough sell.
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