First it was pro football players, basketball player, college football players, baseball players, and now it’s college cheerleaders taking a knee during this great country’s National Anthem. When will this disregard for America end? When will these individuals kneeling realize they only have this freedom because they are Americans.
According to reports, The “Kennesaw Five” – cheerleaders who were banished from the football field at Kennesaw State during the playing of the national anthem after kneeling during the song in late September – will be back in front of fans starting Saturday.
School president Sam Olens addressed the simmering controversy this week when he put out a letter to the community that said in part, “While I believe there are more effective ways to initiate an exchange of ideas on issues of national concern, the right to exercise one’s Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment must be protected.”
Yet leading up to Saturday’s home game, there are still plenty of raw nerves, and an unsettled debate about Scrappy the Owl, the school’s mascot.
Olens initially said the decision to remove the cheerleaders was planned before the protest, but local news reports found text messages from state representative Earl Ehrhart and Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren that suggested intense pressure on Olens to make the change.
The involvement of a highly placed lawmaker and a highly placed law enforcement official turned this into a national story. And it produced more anger on campus. Senior Jeffrey Wallace, who is known as hip-hop artist Jaye Newton, stood up at a concert in front of Olens’ office in mid-October and rapped, “Tell me how I can go to a college so diverse/Yet they take my First Amendment and throw it in a hearse.” He was greeted with roars of approval.