Statement of Claude Cummings, Jr. on NFL Owners' Effort to Mandate Standing During the National Anthem

It’s disappointing that the National Football League has decided to mandate how free Americans express patriotism and love for our country. Mandating how grown men show respect and appreciation for living in a free country not only disrespects those men but fails to recognize what our flag and our anthem really represent.

When I hear our national anthem and see our flag wave, I choose to stand as a show of my honor and respect for the rights we hold as Americans. It is one of the ways I express my appreciation to the men and women who have fought and died for our freedoms and those now serving to protect them.

Taking a knee or raising a fist during the playing of our anthem—to show solidarity with the plight of others, to show alliance with a worthy cause, or as a simple expression of our freedom of speech—is an equally respectful way to honor our nation. After all, we take a knee to pray, to ask for God’s forgiveness, to ask for a hand in marriage.

As the players' union, which was not consulted about this policy change, noted, "NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about."

With their policy requiring players to stand during the playing of our national anthem, NFL owners are failing to grasp how individual thought, freedom of speech and the fundamental right to disagree are essential to our free society.


CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, Jr. heads CWA's Human Rights Program.