Motown legend Gladys Knight incurred the wrath of Black Americans and members of the pro-Colin Kaepernick camp when she chose to throw shade at the former NFL quarterback for using the national anthem as a platform to stage his famous protests against police brutality.
Knight, 74, was responding to the tidal wave of hate she was drenched with for accepting the NFL’s request to sing the national anthem during Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in early February.
— Gladys Knight (@MsGladysKnight) January 17, 2019
In a statement to Variety, Knight said, “I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” she wrote. “It is 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.”
“I am here today and on Sunday, (February 3), to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good – I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”
Knight said she hopes the “Star-Spangled Banner” will bring about a sense of unity and humanism in America:
“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. I pray that this national anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us.”
Minus a few supporters, many sports and sociopolitical observers remain bitter that Knight answered the NFL’s call and took to social media to express their repulsion with Knight’s decision:
— 高贵监听器🧘🏾♀️ (@bajankarma) January 18, 2019
— Chronicle Speaks (@ChronicleSpeaks) January 17, 2019
Lord now they got #GladysKnight singing the anthem for the Superbowl…. once again we will never gain the respect of these establishments if we keep back peddling and accepting gigs during a protest… but u know whatever…. pic.twitter.com/HPVcYZQSDZ
— Nova Luxurious (@NovaLuxurious) January 17, 2019
That’s why I was never a fan of #GladysKnight
Her comments about #colinkapernick only prove how uneducated she is, low key obsessed with money, and just how deep her coonery ways goes. If she’s been doing something longer then where was she when shit has been happening? SILENT
— 🦋 Ko-Ko (@KindofKoKo) January 18, 2019
#GladysKnight Gladys, clearly your age is showing and you done forgot the reason why you shouldn’t do this. Rihanna declined out of respect and support of Kaepernak. Can we all be on the same accord for once?
Then we might actually win a fight. #stoppolicebrutality
— Bronze Diva (@diva_bronze) January 18, 2019
#GladysKnight yes here we go again…giving in to the establishment…surprised at GK performing you are a child of the 60’s 70’s have you forgot the struggles we went through…you need money that bad…stand for something or fall for everything 😳
— James Williams (@ThurmanwooJames) January 18, 2019
#GladysKnight I have been in love with you & Gail Fisher since 1969 win I was 9. I am so looking forward to your performance at the Super Bowl.
— Thomas Welsch (@Bone1360) January 18, 2019
#GladysKnight really disappointed me like she doesn’t know what the original national anthem was about … nahhh sis you couldn’t been on the forefront if you support that
— france (@adoree__mee) January 18, 2019
So it’s ok for black men to play every week but not ok for a black woman to sing..🤔 #GladysKnight
— Jan (@ibjamabu) January 18, 2019