Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee joined scores of protesting athletes and defended the First Amendment as she took a knee on the House floor.
“There is no basis in the First Amendment that says you cannot kneel on the National Anthem or in front of the flag,” the Texas democrat said while presenting a special order of the Congressional Black Caucus.
President Trump sparked a firestorm across the political and sports worlds on Friday when he said NFL owners should fire athletes who refuse to stand for the anthem.
“Get that son of a b—- off the field,” he said during a campaign rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange.
The comment appeared to be aimed at former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick — though he did not mention him by name specifically — who refused to stand for the anthem last year to protest police brutality against people of color.
From the ground, Lee explained that she kneeled to honor freedom.
“I kneel in honor of the first amendment, I kneel because the flag is symbol for freedom, I kneel because I’m going to stand against racism, I kneel because I’m going to stand with these young men and I’ll stand with our soldiers,” she said. “And I’ll stand with America because I kneel.”
The sentiment was echoed by fellow Black Caucus member Rep. John Lewis, who later tweeted that there is “nothing wrong with kneeling down to stand up against injustice.”