Sacramento, CA – The California NAACP announced they want to do away with the National Anthem because they think it is “racist and anti-black.”
“This song is wrong; it shouldn’t have been there, we didn’t have it ’til 1931, so it won’t kill us if it goes away,” Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP, said according to KMAX.
Air Force veteran, Master Sergeant Ryan Peterson, disagrees.
“I love the national anthem,” Peterson said. “It gives me chills every time I hear it.”
He told the San Francisco Gate he’s never heard the third stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in public.
Peterson said he teaches his JROTC students at Hiram Johnson High School to respect the flag and anthem with pride.
“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,” he said.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement of kneeling during the National Anthem in the 2016 NFL preseason, as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality.
Huffman said that Kaepernick’s message was lost in the ensuing controversy and debate about the flag.
“The message got distorted, the real intentions got overlooked, it became something that’s dividing us, and I’m looking for something to bring us back together,” she said.
She said that the protest did inspire her to look at the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner, especially the parts that are not usually sung.
“It’s racist; it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black,” Huffman said, referring to a lyric from the third stanza.
Below are the complete lyrics to the third stanza:
“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 wash’d out their foul footstep’s 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.”
Veteran John Cox told KMAX said that removing the song as this country’s National Anthem “won’t solve any problem.”
Huffman said in response that it might not solve anything, but it would go a long way toward social justice.
“I believe it’s a slap across the face, whether there’s a flaw in the context, I don’t see it that way,” said veteran Sydney Lugo at the West Sacramento VFW. ”I have to stick with our traditions and our values and what we represent.”