The Helpful History of Minority Demonstrations

The Helpful History of Minority Demonstrations

John Richards responds to Ed Stetzer’s article on Kaepernick’s protest

This weekend, President Trump fired the tweet heard ‘round the sports world. And the sports world—specifically NFL players and owners—responded with protests and demonstrations. As he is apt to do, Ed penned a very thoughtful response to the controversy and proposed a Christian response.

I’m grateful Ed asked brothers and sisters to move beyond the protest and seriously consider the issue of race in our country. I also echo his sentiments that white evangelicals stop, listen, reflect in prayer, and ask how you can act when issues like this arise.

I did take exception to something he mentioned in the article. After a conversation today, he suggested I write a response giving a perspective I hope might be helpful in framing the Christian response.

The time and place for peaceful protest isn’t limited by venue or occasion.

Although Ed writes, “There is a time and place for peaceful protest in civil society,” I disagree with the idea that it is unhelpful to demonstrate during the singing of the national anthem. History has told us, in light of injustice, that there is never a proper time and space to exercise one’s free speech. In fact, I’d argue, in this context, that during the anthem is the right time and place for such demonstrations.

Tommie Smith understood this when he stood on an Olympic podium before thousands in 1968 in Mexico City as the national anthem blared over the loud speakers. Smith was an Olympic Gold Medalist in the ‘68 games, but refused to ignore the systemic injustice going on back home. He knew that when he returned home that he would return to a country where some still considered him inferior—less than a man.

Smith noted his reality: “It …

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