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What is the meaning behind taking the knee and why is it so important?

TAKING the knee has become a key symbol of the global movement against racism.

It all started with an NFL player called Colin Kaepernick who sat on the bench when the US anthem was played on August 26, 2016.

Eminem took the knee during his halftime performance at the Super Bowl 56 in February 2022[/caption]

What does take a knee mean?

Take a knee started as a protest against the unfair treatment of Black Americans – but has now become a globalised symbol of fighting racism.

It initially gained worldwide attention in American football, as some players would go down on one knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the game.

The act is now performed by people across the globe as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which is battling racism in particular within the police following the death of George Floyd.

It has become largely, but far from exclusively, associated with the sporting world.

England players took the knee before their games in the Euro 2020 tournament.

In February 2022, US rapper Eminem took the knee after performing his song Lose Yourself during his halftime performance at Super Bowl 56.

Reports said he had been banned from doing so but this was denied by the NFL.

Getty Images - Getty
Colin Kaepernick started the take a knee movement[/caption]

Where does the take a knee movement come from?

It started during the American football pre-season in 2016 when the San Francisco 49ers’ black quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat instead of standing during the national anthem.

By the fourth game, the gesture, which he said was intended to raise awareness of police brutality towards African Americans, had become a national talking point.

That was when Kaepernick, seeking a dignified way to protest without offending military personnel, tried something else – he knelt.

The protest enraged Donald Trump and his supporters, who completely missed the point and tried to make it about “disrespecting the flag”, which is not what it’s about at all.

Then US President Barack Obama defended the player’s constitutional right to make a statement, and pointed to the long history of sports figures protesting.

Kaepernick said at the time: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.”

Since then the movement has been used all over the world, including the first Premier League game of the season, when all 22 players took the knee when the whistle blew.


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