Jackson Lee Takes a Knee

September 26, 2017

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) took a knee on the House floor Monday evening in solidarity with NFL players who do the same during the national anthem.

President Donald Trump touched off a firestorm in the NFL when he said Friday that owners should fire players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, remarking "get that son of a bitch off the field."

Jackson Lee slammed Trump's invective against the players during her House floor speech.

"That is racism. You cannot deny it, you cannot run for it, and I kneel in honor of them," she said, dropping to her knees. "I kneel in honor of the First Amendment. I kneel because the flag is a symbol for freedom. I kneel because I'm going to stand against racism."

"I kneel because I will stand with those young men, and I'll stand with our soldiers, and I'll stand with America, because I kneel," she concluded.

Trump followed up with numerous tweets over the weekend saying players should be required to stand for the anthem or be punished, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended his remarks on Monday.

Trump's language prompted a backlash throughout the NFL. Players and owners criticized him, and teams across the league knelt or locked arms in solidarity during the national anthem in a clear response to the president.

The protest originated with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started taking a knee during the national anthem last year to draw attention to racial injustice. Some other players on other teams and leagues have since followed suit, setting off debates about free speech, patriotism and race.