On Oct. 8, a number of Minnesota State University, Mankato students participated in a silent protest against racial injustices by sitting during the national anthem at the homecoming football game.
The protest comes in wake of multiple police brutality reports across the United States, the most local case being the shooting of Philando Castile at a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.
MNSU student Rosalin Cobb, the event coordinator for Black Student Union, said the demonstration was held to bring to light the issues that have been happening over the past months.
“As a group (BSU) we decided [a silent protest] was what we wanted to do, too,” Cobb said. “It would be a great way to…bring awareness to an issue we care about to a demographic of people who usually turn a blind eye to issues like police brutality and other forms of racism.”
A number of athletes and college students across the country have also chosen to sit during the anthem become of these alleged injustices, most notably the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Sitting for the anthem has been an act of contention across the U.S., and MNSU was no exception to this. Many football game attendees yelled at the sitting students, saying the sitting was disrespectful.
MNSU student Bennett Blanton is one of many students who feels sitting is not the proper way to address the issues.
“I feel it is disrespectful to the people who have died for this country,” Blanton said. “We stand for the anthem because our flag stands for freedom.”
Cobb said that this demonstration was not meant to be disrespectful.
“What people don’t understand is that we’re not sitting down because we want to disrespect the veterans,” Cobb said. “That has never been the reason. Only the media has said that. We are sitting down because we want people to acknowledge that there is a problem.”
Despite mixed reviews, Cobb said the demonstration was “very successful” and that she was “happy with the turnout,” and she made it clear that they hold to their convictions.
“We will continue to sit down until America stands up for us. And that is the message Black Student Union and our allies wanted to send,” Cobb said.
BSU’s mission is to “promote and sustain an atmosphere that is conducive to the political, cultural, social, spiritual, economic, and educational growth of students of African descent and the University community at-large. We achieve and sustain this atmosphere through the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge, cultural programming, pro-active leadership, and co-operation within the Black community.”
If you would like to be involved in BSU or learn more, bi-weekly meetings are held on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Armstrong 310 with the next meeting on Oct. 19. You can also follow BSU on Facebook at @bsumnsu16.