Brenna Wynn Greer Writes about Opposition to the NFL Protest for The Spoke

Tommie Smith Statue at National Museum of African American History and Culture
Photo provided by John S. Quinn/
November 1, 2017

The Spoke is a blog launched earlier this year through Wellesley’s Albright Institute as “a voice for the liberal arts in global dialogue.” Led by six faculty members representing the disciplines that comprise the liberal arts, The Spoke posts new articles regularly regarding issues and events of global importance. Wellesley faculty, staff, students, and alumnae—including Madeleine K. Albright ’59 and other special guests—contribute analyses of local, national, and global issues.

In her most recent post for The Spoke, Brenna W. Greer, Wellesley’s Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences and professor of history, discusses criticism of NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem—and the irony and racism behind such opposition.

Greer writes, “Many who would have black football players sit down and shut up—or, in this case, stand up and sing—object to them messing with tradition and bringing politics into the game. Except, only since 2009 have NFL players been required to be present during the national anthem for primetime games; previously, they sat out ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in the locker room.”

Greer points out that by taking a knee, NFL players assert that “people of color have equal stake in this nation—its heritage, culture, strength, and successes—at a time when multiple federal efforts seek to repudiate or revoke their claim.” 

Read Professor Greer’s article and additional posts from her and other contributors at The Spoke.