Sunday afternoon, numerous NFL players followed quarterback Colin Kaepernick's example, kneeling during renditions of the national anthem to protest police violence against people of color. In Nashville, that extended to anthem performer Meghan Linsey, who kneeled as she wrapped up her own rendition before the Tennessee Titans' home game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Now Linsey, a Season 8 finalist on The Voice and former member of country duo Steel Magnolia, issued a statement defending her decision to kneel, citing her respect for those who died fighting for constitutional rights like the freedom of speech.
"I kneeled in solidarity with the players and for those who experience racism and police brutality on a daily basis," she wrote. "I love the American flag, but a symbol is nothing without the people it represents, so yesterday, I kneeled for those who are mistreated, beaten down and disregarded.
"It was never a choice for me as to whether or not I would show support for many of my fans and friends who have a heightened level of anxiety and fear because of the hateful, polarizing rhetoric from the President perpetuating a dangerous climate," she added.
As with all the protests on Sunday, there were negative reactions in the stadium and online when Linsey and her guitarist took a knee. She notes that she understood the risk of backlash, but did what she felt was right.
"I will never normalize hate, whether that angers people or not," she says.
During Linsey's performance, the Titans and Seahawks stayed in the locker room and took the field afterward, as did many of the other teams on Sunday. The issue was hotly debated, eliciting a string of tweets from President Trump, who wrote, "Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!"