A descendant of national anthem songwriter Francis Scott Key expressed irritation with NFLer Colin Kaepernick’s protest. Atlanta Black Star reported the San Francisco 49ers quarterback began protesting during pre-season football games. Since sitting, and later kneeling as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, Kaepernick drew both praise and criticism.
Now, Shirley Carole Isham is adding to the disapproval.
“It just broke my heart to think that someone that gets so much money for playing a ballgame, who is half Black, half white would do this,” Isham, a great great great granddaughter of Key told USA Today Sports. “So many of his Black race are oppressed, but it’s not by the whites, it’s by their own people. Look who their leaders are, and the president. Has [Barack Obama] done anything for these people?”
Isham’s direct ancestry to Key was verified by the Daughters of American Revolution when she gained membership to the group in 1977.
Hearing the song makes Isham emotional.
“I cry every time it’s played because I have so much admiration for my grandpa and the national anthem.”
80-year-old Isham said she saw videos of Kaepernick kneeling during the song. She remained critical of his effort to spotlight the oppression of Black Americans.
“It’s very painful for me,” Isham said. “It just blows my mind that somebody like [Kaepernick] would do what he does to dishonor the flag of this country and the national anthem when we have young men and women overseas fighting for this country – people that have died for this country.”
Still, another descendant of Key gives Kaepernick her full support.
“He had every right to do what he did,” 73-year-old Suzanne Key Boyle Herrmann said. “And because of what he did it has sparked conversation and conversation is so healthy in this country to have on the issues of equality and rights.”
But Isham stands by her criticism.
“If he’s not going to honor his country and his countrymen, he’s dishonoring himself,’’ she said. “This tells you an awful lot about him.”