‘Your racist side slipped out a little’: How the anthem protests split one small town

The sharp divisions of the Trump era were laid bare in rural North Carolina when a rumor circulated that the high school football team would be forced to kneel for the Star-Spangled Banner

…That September day – the week after President Trump had called for NFL owners to fire any player who knelt during the national anthem – one white mother at the school heard a striking story from her daughter, a 10th-grade student. At the football game on Friday night, the school would force the entire team, band and cheerleading squad to kneel in solidarity with the NFL protestors. The mother, as a member of a military family, felt offended and called her ex-mother-in-law, who had put up the original post, to vent.

For both women, forcing students to kneel had crossed a line. It was one thing to make students learn about Trayvon Martin or for teachers to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts to work. But now the school had gone too far, forcing students to take sides on the most divisive political issue of the moment.