News Release

Colin Kaepernick and Racism of The Star-Spangled Banner

The group RootsAction.org has started a petition: “Tell Colin Kaepernick you support his brave stance for racial justice.” The group states that it was signed by 7,500 “the first eight hours after it was launched on Monday afternoon.”

GERALD HORNE, GHorne[at]uh.edu
Horne is Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His books include Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation.

Horne commented in a segment for The Real News just last month: “Look at the third stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner, which is sung routinely, as you know, at sporting events, at every major, perhaps even minor, event at this country. The third stanza, the lyrics, devised by Francis Scott Key of Maryland — who, by the way, was a slaveowner, and by the way, in 1835 helped to incite a pogrom against people of African descent, particularly slaves, in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area — in the third stanza, he denounces the black population of the United States.”

The third stanza reads:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave 
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Added Horne: “And one of the reasons he denounces them is because the Star-Spangled Banner comes out of the War of 1812, when there was this conflict between Britain, the former colonial power, and the United States of America, which had seceded from the British Empire in 1776. Voila, the July 4holiday. And the African population, by several orders of magnitude, not only fought against the secession in 1776, but they aligned with London. And when the redcoats invaded, particularly the Washington, D.C.-Maryland area in August 1814, and they set Washington, D.C. afire, set the White House afire, sent President James Madison and his garrulous spouse Dolly fleeing into the streets. …

“And the Star-Spangled Banner speaks specifically and particularly to that, reprimanding, reproving, and denouncing black people for not standing alongside the star-spangled banner, but instead aligning, as the black population tended to do, with the real and imagined enemies of the United States of America.”

See Jon Schwarz at The Intercept: “Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery.” Also see from Jason Johnson at The Root: “Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem.”