Lansing, Mich.- Michael Lynn III, Matthew Abdullah, Kabbash Richards and Roje Williams created controversy earlier this year when they took a knee during the national anthem at one of their Lansing Catholic football games. All four players received some kind of discipline from the school and were benched during the football game. The Lansing Catholic students did it to protest social injustice and it caught Colin Kaepernick’s attention. Last weekend, the boys skyped Kaepernick for 20 minutes and talked about their actions.
“He showed me to be courageous and to stand up for what I believe in,” Richards said.
Kaepernick came under scrutiny last year when he didn’t stand for the national anthem during an NFL game, a protest for what he says is police brutality against young African Americans. This caused a nation-wide protest, some saying it was blatant disrespect for the flag, but it also sparked a movement by others, including these four students.
Back in 2011, the possibility that the Lansing Board of Education might build a new high school and shut down Lansing Eastern or Lansing Sexton initially sparked outrage among the alumni of both schools. Now a new task force has been tasked to help the board make a decision by December, raising questions about whether the conflict will erupt again. Much of the opposition has died down in the many months since the initial idea was floated. However, Steve Manchester, who was a part of the Save Our Sexton campaign to protest the possible closing, said that if talk of closing the schools starts to get more serious, there will be an uproar of support for the schools once again. “If they come to a decision and decide to build a new high school and close Sexton or Eastern, there will be a very loud backlash against that,” Manchester said. “(The alumni) are ready to be very active and involved if there is serious discussions about closing those two schools or building a new school.”
Lansing School Board member Myra Ford understands the support for the schools as she herself is a ’64 graduate of Sexton, but she says that love for her alma mater will not stop her from doing what she believes is best for the district.