African-American singer Sevyn Streeter was scheduled to sing the national anthem at the NBA season opener between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
She claimed on Twitter the 76ers organization prohibited her from doing so because she was wearing a jersey with the phrase “We Matter” on it, reports the Daily Mail.
The Sixers declined to confirm Streeter’s accusation, instead releasing a statement that said: “The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
Apparently, the organization didn’t consider the message on Streeter’s shirt to be a “meaningful action,” and had a member of its dance team sing the anthem instead.
At a preseason game in Miami, the national anthem singer Denasia Lawrence wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt while belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” as she kneeled at midcourt.
These incidents are the latest in the ongoing protest movement which began in the NFL preseason on Aug. 26 with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag. I know that I am a black man in a white world,” he explained after the first time he refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The number of NFL players joining Kaepernick’s protest continues to grow. So far, teams with protesting players included the 49ers, Dolphins, Eagles, Rams, Titans, Raiders and Seahawks.
Some players follow Kaepernick’s lead by kneeling, but an increasing number are showing their support with raised fists, recalling the controversial “black power salute” by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Olympics.
The entire Seattle Seahawks team shows its solidarity with the protest movement by linking arms when the anthem is played.