- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2020

Calls to boycott the NFL trended Friday on social media following reports that the league plans to play the song known as the Black national anthem before all Week 1 regular season games.

Multiple media outlets, including The Associated Press and the Undefeated, cited sources saying that “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem, would be played or performed before the first week’s games, immediately before “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The hashtag #BoycottNFL trended on Friday morning as some Republican lawmakers and others condemned the idea, saying it promoted the concept of a nation divided by race.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, tweeted that “America is one unified nation with one national anthem,” while Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, called the idea “asinine.”

“How many national anthems do we have??” Mr. Cruz asked on Twitter. “Is there [a] Hispanic national anthem? An Asian-American national anthem? This is asinine. We are ONE America. E Pluribus Unum.”

Former NFL player Burgess Owens, the Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, tweeted that, “There is no ‘black national anthem’. Why does it feel like the country is trying to segregate again sometimes?”

Written in 1905, the song was dubbed “the Negro national anthem” by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1919, according to Wikipedia.

Conservative commentator Terrence K. Williams suggested that those watching the games should “take a knee during the Black National Anthem,” referring to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s social-justice protest during the national anthem.

“We have a National anthem, it’s for the entire nation. Why are they trying to bring back segregation? So RACIST,” Mr. Williams tweeted.

Others mocked critics for the uproar, while some commenters dismissed the idea as virtue-signaling and no substitute for an overhaul of the law enforcement and justice system.

“#BlackLivesMatter didn’t ask for the African American National Anthem to get played. They asked for changes to policing. That’s not asking for segregation,” The Sage tweeted. “It’s the NFL doing this instead of righting wrongs like reinstating Kaepernick. If you want to blame anyone, blame them.”

Rapper Mekka Don tweeted that “Things we don’t want” included “The Black National Anthem playing at NFL games,” and “Street signs with “Black Lives Matter,” and that “Things we want” include “Justice for Breonna Taylor” and “Justice for George Floyd.”

The Washington Times has reached out to the NFL for comment.

The NFL announced June 11 that it had committed to spending $250 million over 10 years to “combat systemic racism,” expanding its previous social-justice funding pledge.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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