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Former KSU cheerleader Tommia Dean explains why she took a knee

Former Kennesaw State University cheerleader Tommia Dean (photo provided)

Inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s on-field protests against police brutality, Tommia Dean joined the peaceful movement while cheerleading at Kennesaw State University.

In 2017, Dean and four other cheerleaders kneeled during the national anthem at a college football game. As a result, the cheerleaders were escorted off the field.

After the incident, Dean proceeded to file a lawsuit against officials at the university in suburban Atlanta area. On Dec. 5, 2019, it was announced that the 21-year-old KSU senior had settled with the university for $145,000.

Rolling out sat down with Dean to discuss how taking a knee and the aftermath impacted her.

How did the school and others react to you after the incident?

The students were pretty good. We had a lot of support from teachers and stuff. I didn’t get any backlash on campus — at least I didn’t see any backlash. We got a lot of support on campus. The students rallied. There was a whole take-a-knee organization on campus, so [they] really rallied for us. They were major in helping us. … They were amazing.

What emotions did you deal with while being a full-time student and battling the lawsuit?

Stress. It can be overwhelming at times, but I think that’s with any college student. School is overwhelming on its own, and then if you add this, it can be overwhelming. But I think with family, they can help you navigate some of it.

How does achieving victory through the lawsuit feel?

At the end of the day, you sue because something was wrong. So, when you do a lawsuit, it’s for people to understand that something wrong was done and for them to understand that something like that can’t be done again. So, when you finish your lawsuit I hope that is what people take from it.

Do you feel like this action was a step forward in the African American community to come together and stand up for what they believe in?

I would hope so. So many people view it so differently. Many people view taking a knee as being disrespectful. … I think the more we talk about it and people listen, the more that it will change people’s views. … It’s never been about being disrespectful. It’s about police brutality. … We understand that cops have a very hard job. It’s about police brutality and African Americans and minorities being killed unjustly. The more we drill that, I think that’s when it’ll start to, hopefully, progress.