Statement from tenor Lawrence Brownlee on singing the National Anthem for today’s New York Jets vs. Baltimore Ravens football game:
As I prepare to take the field to sing our National Anthem for the New York Jets vs. the Baltimore Ravens, I feel myself being torn in two different directions.
On one hand, I am honored to have been given the opportunity to sing the National Anthem today, as I have many times before. Being the son of a veteran, I know the power of the Anthem and how much it means to people like my father and those who love our great country, and how it was the last thing many soldiers sang as they gave their lives in battle fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy. And I am grateful for the fact I have far more opportunities to succeed today as a man of color than my ancestors who were alive when the Anthem was written.
And yet I cannot ignore how protests around the National Anthem have escalated as of late. My fellow Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brother Colin Kaepernick began the movement by silently protesting the Anthem in hopes that the public discourse regarding race relations, police brutality and misconduct towards people of color would change. It is an act of protest which I agree with and support wholeheartedly, for while I remain hopeful that we as a people are gradually moving towards equality in all areas, I still believe that much needs to change in our society in regards to the policing and mistreatment of minorities.
I feel strongly that my singing career and the public stage it offers me must also bring with it a sense of responsibility, and a duty to do what is right. I asked myself whether or not I should sing or stand in silent solidarity.
But in the end I decided to use the voice that God has given me to sing – to sing with the conflicting emotions that pull at my heart…the honor, the pride, the frustration, the sadness…Colin Kaepernick’s message, the hope of my ancestors, and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives protecting our flag.
And I will keep on singing until I can no longer do so.