Kelly Holstine, a Minnesota teacher who won the state's "Teacher of the Year" award, decided to make a statement while she was at the College Football Playoff Championship game between Clemson and LSU. During the national anthem, Holstine took a knee while the national anthem was being performed. She did this right behind President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania
Honored as State Teachers of the Year at NCAA Champ FB Game. Given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people. Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, “No one is free until we are all free” (MLK). #imwithkap #blacklivesmatter #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/DimP3pBtBn— Kelly D. Holstine (she/her) (@kellydholstine) January 14, 2020
Holstine was at the game to be honored for her work as a teacher. She revealed the reason she decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest the racial and social injustice going on in the country.
"I just decided that it felt like the right thing to do, to have a very respectful protest," Holstine said to The Hill. "It's really Martin Luther King Jr. says it best: 'Nobody's free until we're all free.'"
Holstine also said she skipped a ceremony at the White House that honored "Teacher of the Year" honorees back in April. With Trump in office, Holstine believes now is the time to stand up for those who can't.
"I think that the current environment that is being created and has been created in his tenure definitely adds to my feelings of wanting to support individuals who are not being supported," she said. "I really feel like our country is not serving the needs of all its inhabitants … so many humans right now that are not being given the respect and the rights that they deserve."
Trump didn't see the protest, but he's against people kneeling during the national anthem. He was not a fan of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling and he's the one that got it started back in 2016. After the 2016 season came to an end, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and has not been signed by a team since.
"Not everybody is given the opportunity to have a voice, and I can take a small moment, a respectful moment of protest, and exercise my First Amendment rights, and stand up for my students and for vulnerable adults and for people who are not treated in the way that they should be," Holstine added. "It feels like my responsibility to do that."
Holstine currently the director of educational equity for OutFront Minnesota, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. She previously worked at an alternative high school in Minnesota.