Jamilah Nasheed, a Missouri state senator, sat down for the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the senate’s session Wednesday afternoon. In an interview with the St. Louis Dispatch, Nasheed described her rationale for remaining seated during the pledge.
“I love America, but I want to support a brother who is shining a light on injustice,” Nasheed told the Post-Dispatch, referring to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first started kneeling in the NFL preseason before the national anthem to shed light on racial injustices and systemic racism. Since then, more than a dozen other NFL players have joined him.
In a detailed statement on Wednesday, Nasheed further explained her actions.
“I decided to not stand for the pledge of allegiance today to stand in solidarity with the cause of injustice that Colin Kaepernick has shined a bright upon,” Nasheed wrote. “I am not anti-America, and in fact, it is because I love this country that I take this stand.”
Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, currently running for governor, responded with mealy mouthed “what about the kids” sanctimony.
“There is no question of the senator’s right to remain seated during the Pledge, but it’s a question of the propriety of her action. I worry about the example she is setting, particularly for our young people,” Kinder told the Post-Dispatch. “I believe our best hope for tackling the tough issues of racial unity and economic opportunity is through the shared commitment to the principles and ideals that make America great.”
Nasheed highlighted a number of specific injustices she wished to draw attention to in her statement Wednesday, including “the injustice of voter suppression,” “the injustice of mass incarceration,” and “the injustice of economic disparity.”
In the session following her protest, she had a chance to fight against some of these injustices: The senate was in session, in part, to vote on whether to reverse Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to veto a bill that would require residents to present photo identification before voting.
Despite her protests, the bill was enacted by a 115–41 vote.