Stevie Wonder showed solidarity with NFL players last night (September 23) by getting down on his knees on stage at Global Citizen festival.
The move followed Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL and NBA players who kneel, sir or raise their fists during the national anthem, to protest against police brutality.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first player to take a knee during the anthem, during the 2016-17 season, and his contract with the San Francisco 49ers was not renewed, and he is yet to sign with another team.
During a speech in Alabama on Friday (September 22) night, the president said they are “disrespecting the flag”.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Trump’s comments “divisive” in a statement tweeted yesterday.
Stevie Wonder made the gesture while was headlining Global Citizen festival in Central Park, New York.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 24, 2017
“Tonight I’m taking a knee for America, ” the singer says as he gets down on one knee onstage, aided by his son Kwame Morris.
“But not just one knee. I’m taking both knees. Both knees and a prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world.”
The singer then performed classics like ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’, and his set featured an appearance from Pharrell, who recently made an impassioned speech at VH-1’s ‘Hip Hop Honours’, urging viewers to take a stand agaist white nationalists.
Stevie Wonder joins a long line of musicians making a stand against Trump, including Bastille (who called the president a ‘big, orange baby’ during their Reading performance), Jay-Z (who called him ‘not very sophisticated’) and Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong (who said his first thought was of fascism when he heard Trump was running for president).