Last week, Olympic hammer thrower, Gwen Berry, turned her back on the American flag during the national anthem.
She continued her demonstration by holding a shirt that read “Activist Athlete” over her face. The incident occurred after Berry landed third place in the trials, thereby qualifying for the Olympic games. DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson came in first and second place, respectively. Following criticism and praise, Berry responded by stating that the national anthem is ‘disrespectful’ and ‘doesn’t speak for black Americans.’
In a segment with the Black News Channel, Berry told the interviewer, “I never said that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic Games, that’s why I competed and got third and made the team. I never said that I hated the country. I never said that. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand for or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people. Point blank, period.”
She continued by arguing for her disapproval of the national anthem. “If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem, the third paragraph speaks to slaves in America, our blood being slain…all over the floor,” she said. “It’s disrespectful and it does not speak for Black Americans. It’s obvious. There’s no question.” The line she is referencing has been interpreted as a threat to slaves or a disparage to the British.
“The reference to slaves is about the use, and in some sense the manipulation, of black Americans to fight for the British, with the promise of freedom. The American forces included African-Americans as well as whites. The term ‘freemen,’ whose heroism is celebrated in the fourth stanza, would have encompassed both,” Mark Clague, a musicologist professor, told the New York Times. Berry suggested she was ‘set-up’ and did not know the anthem would be played while athletes were on the field. USA Track and Field spokesperson Susan Hazzard said her claim of a set-up is false.
ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE SUN
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