Posted by: morgan1965 | October 8, 2017

The Spirit Of Taking A Knee

In recent weeks the news has been checkered with a variety of conversations, pro and con, about some professional athletes who made a public protest on bended knee during the playing of the national anthem. To be sure, it is customary to stand when the national anthem is played in a public venue such as a football game. This unorthodox practice, taking a knee, was sparked by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who took a knee. He knelt in silence to demonstrate his protest against the significant number of black people who were being killed by police officers.

Kaepernick’s first demonstration in 2016 was simply to remain seated during the anthem. After some reflection and consultation, Kaepernick decided to take a knee.  Other Americans have taken a knee in protest against violence, discrimination and injustice. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a knee in protest of America’s segregation against African Americans. On the one hand, for King to take a knee was a symbol of protest, but it was also a sign of submission to almighty God. While taking a knee, King and his fellow protesters offered their prayers to God.

The sprinter takes a knee when kneeling in a starting position at the beginning of a race. This crouched position enables the sprinter to start rapidly with speed and fluidity. The knee in this instance represents a starting position. America, indeed, needs a fresh start in the arena of racism and inclusion.

There were some people who questioned the patriotism of Martin Luther King, Jr. There are now some people who question the patriotism of any person who takes a knee during the singing of the national anthem. African American patriotism is beyond question, because African Americans have fought in every war, beginning with the War for Independence to the present day. The embrace of patriotism perhaps has been a bitter sweet bill, considering the fact that during World Wars I and II, African Americans were placed in segregated units, commanded by white officers. Nevertheless, these patriots fought with courage and valor.

James Weldon Johnson wrote the poem titled, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was later set to music. Consider the depth of patriotism and fidelity couched in the words of the first verse:

“Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the listening skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun

Let us march on till victory is won.”

Johnson poignantly notes that the road has been stony and the chastening rod has been bitter. Hope at times seemed to be dead, but the struggle continues until the present day and beyond. Regardless of the difficult and weary years and the many tears, Johnson offers a heartfelt and pleading prayer:

“Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

May we forever stand.

True to our God,

True to our native land.

This poem, affectionately known as the Negro National Anthem, manifests a focus on God and an unwavering allegiance to the nation; yes, the United States of America that once enslaved African Americans.

The African American spiritual, “Let Us Break Bread Together” provides an appropriate rallying call:

“Let us break bread together on our knees.

Let us drink wine together on our knees,

Let us praise God together on our knees”

This is the Christian response of brotherhood and sisterhood. Perhaps we should all take a knee, and listen to God’s call to love our neighbors.

Khalil Gibran has an intriguing quote: “Yesterday, we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today, we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.”

Jesus took a knee, and washed the feet of his disciples.

Martin Luther King, Jr. took a knee in an act of protest and prayer.

The act of taking a knee is to stand for justice, peace and the beloved community.

Think about it!






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