Sports | September 29, 2017 1:12 pm

Lawmakers of Color React to Culture War President Incited in Sports

Reps. John Lewis, Barbara Lee among Congresspeople quoted in new SB Nation feature.

Tom Brady and Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, and Tom Brady (12) Phillip Dorsett (13) Matthew Slater, second from right, and David Harris (45) stand during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

President Trump’s divisive tweets and comments at rallies about the NFL and NBA have brought out what some see as the best, and others the worst, in professional athletes.

The protests that have stormed the NFL didn’t begin yesterday, though; they’ve been full-speed-ahead for well over a year, and only recently, have come to a head.

Congressional leaders like Rep. John Lewis were certain that the incoming president would bring a culture divide to the U.S., but they were shocked to find it stemming from the gridiron and basketball court, explains SB Nation.

He likens the anthem protests to something he used to do as a Freedom Rider during the chrysalis of the Civil Rights Movement:

“We kneeled before we left on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We kneeled in courtrooms and courthouse steps. We kneeled when Dr. King came here in 1957. We kneeled on the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. I think the president needs to read a little history.”

Then there’s Rep. Barbara Lee, who’s originally from Oakland, California, who was unsurprised but felt personally attacked by the president and other Republican lawmakers pivoting the anthem protest conversation from social/racial injustice to that of patriotism. Especially, when it came to her hometown team, the Golden State Warriors. “Challenging [athletes of color] as patriots, thinking they aren’t living up to what America prides itself as being, [Trump’s] almost saying they’re un-American,” Lee told SB Nation. “That’s the implication. It’s a very hard moment. I know what these players must feel that their president has the audacity to take them on in this way. It’s outrageous.”

The way Rep. Cedric Richmond puts it is this: “In [Trump’s] mind, and how he thinks, it’s an easy sell to get his numbers back up to the base he appeals to by creating division,” Richmond told SB Nation. “He’s saying: ‘Look at those ungrateful, African-American football players that make millions but don’t respect our flag or our country or our heritage.’ Well, it’s everyone’s heritage.”