On Sunday (Sept. 24), Meghan Linsey finished singing the National Anthem at the Tennessee Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks game and knelt down on one knee in solidarity with protesting NFL players. Her decision has made her the subject of headlines and both praise and vitriol from fans, and on Monday (Sept. 25), Linsey released a statement about her choice.

During Sunday’s NFL games, numerous players and teams performed gestures of protest as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung prior to kickoff. They were responding to comments by President Donald Trump, made on Friday (Sept. 22) at a campaign rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange and on Twitter on Saturday (Sept. 23), about players such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick choosing to kneel during the National Anthem in order to protest racial inequality in the United States.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out, you’re fired!’” Trump said during the event on Friday. On Saturday, via Twitter, he added, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

On Twitter and during a Sunday press conference, Trump continued to defend his statements. A number of NFL teams have released statements condemning Trump’s comments or otherwise shown their disapproval for what he said.

Linsey — formerly one-half of the country duo Steel Magnolia, now a solo artist — was one of two National Anthem singers to kneel following their performances on Sunday. At the Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons game, R&B / soul artist Rico Lavelle ended his performance by taking a knee as well. In an interview given shortly after her performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner," Linsey explained in detail when and how she decided to "take a knee," but her full statement, which was emailed to media, is below.

I want to say, I love my country and I have so much respect for those who died for our right to stand, kneel or be absent during the Anthem [on Sunday]. The heart of our country is our Constitution, and we are all walking, talking, breathing symbols of that Constitution.

[On Sunday], upon finishing the Anthem, I kneeled in solidarity with the players and for those who experience racism and police brutality on a daily basis. I love the American flag, but a symbol is nothing without the people it represents, so [on Sunday], I kneeled for those who are mistreated, beaten down and disregarded.

It was never a choice for me as to whether or not I would show support for many of my fans and friends who have a heightened level of anxiety and fear because of the hateful, polarizing rhetoric from the president perpetuating a dangerous climate.

I can never be anything but me, the way God made me, and what I do is not just my art, it’s my calling. I will never normalize hate, whether that angers people or not. I knew there would be some backlash from people who don't understand, but there has also been such an overwhelming amount of support from those who applauded and knelt with me, and I’m so grateful for that.

I pray that change is sparked and that our great country can find unity despite our differences.

Love and Light -

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