More than 125 Texas State students didn’t rise for the National Anthem at Saturday’s home football game against University of Houston.
Inspired by Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players, Black Lives Movement San Marcos and other student organizations planned the peaceful protest weeks in advance.
Texas State’s Black Women United and Black Men United joined with BLMSM to tailgate before the game.
Around 5 p.m., the groups entered the stadium as a collective and found a section where they could all sit together.
Once the National Anthem began playing, the groups remained seated, bowed their heads and raised their fists in the air while wearing black attire.
“We just can’t honor a country that does not honor or acknowledge that black lives are continuing to experience historical injustice and systemic oppression,” Russell Boyd II, BLMSM co-founder said. “Now, more than ever, we need to utilize the rights that were given to us in the Constitution, although the Constitution was never intended for us.”
Lonvis Naulls, exercise and sports science junior and BLMSM co-founder, said the sit-in gained massive support once the flyer was posted on Twitter. People of any race, age or gender were invited to the peaceful protest.
“We had a great response,” Naulls said. “Some of the band members, UH football players and coaches said thank you. As an opposing team, it meant a lot to see them say thank you and appreciate what we were doing. Everyone that participated enjoyed what we did.”
Samantha Garcia, philosophy junior, said she supports the BLMSM sit-in and freedom of expression.
“I get what they’re doing and I agree with it,” Garcia said. “I think there’s a problem in this country with stereotyping, and the justice system is completely crooked and unfair. It needed to be addressed.”
However, some do not approve of the recent protests.
A video of the sit-in was tweeted by a Houston Chronicle writer, and over 3,000 people retweeted it. Replies consisted of either overwhelming support or opposition.
Naulls said backlash was expected because he knows a lot of people don’t agree with the movement.
“We have to tune that out because this is our way of fighting back,” Naulls said. “If you haven’t been in a black person’s position, it’s hard for you to understand where we’re coming from deeply when we see another one of our black women or men gunned down in the street while unarmed.”
Kayla Wilburn, communication disorders sophomore, said her roommate who participated in the sit-in invited her to join, but she didn’t want to.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the National Anthem is a time where we should be united,” Wilburn said. “For that one moment, we should all come together as Americans. I guess they stood for what they believed in, but they’ve made their point.”
Naulls wants to remind those who oppose the movement that BLMSM is not a negative organization and the protests do not harm anyone.
According to Naulls, the black community has been most active this semester, when compared to the previous four years.
“As a black community, we’re going to be there for each other,” Naulls said. “To sit in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world who are doing it—it was a proud moment.”
Alexus Barree, BLMSM co-founder, said the movement has gained momentum because of police brutality around the country.
“We decided to do this now because this time for black people is a really hard time,” Barree said. “This wasn’t happening 3 or 4 years ago as much as it is now. We do it now because it’s more visible to us, so it’s more hurtful to us.”
The groups plan to protest at every home game, Naulls said. In addition, they will conduct sit-ins at basketball games when the season begins.