The students sat silently while the national anthem played. Many raised their fists.
Some members of the Marching Tar Heels kneeled and raised their fists during the anthem. At the end of the game, after the last-second 37-36 victory, a football player yelled “black lives matter” and defensive back Patrice Rene raised his fist into the air.
In a speech before the group walked to the stadium from Morrison Residence Hall, sophomore Jerome Simpson, who organized the event, told his fellow protesters they were to be respectful during the national anthem. They were still observing the anthem, just not standing for it.
“Obviously it’s not that we don’t want to stand — we want to stand,” Simpson said. “We just feel like right now that the ideals behind the national anthem aren’t being represented fairly.”
Simpson said he welcomes the negative reactions some have to sitting for the anthem.
“It may be from that negative reaction, we can spark the conversation and get the conversation going even more and say ‘Okay, we’re not standing for the national anthem, but why aren’t we standing? It’s because of an issue,’” he said.
“We’re not just (not) standing because we don’t want to or because we’re just being rebellious. We have a serious issue behind why we’re not standing. So let’s talk about that issue. Let’s bring light to that issue. And let’s find a solution to that issue.”