Motown legend Gladys Knight has agreed to sing the National Anthem at the 2019 Super Bowl in her hometown of Atlanta. After receiving criticism from supporters of Colin Kaepernick, the “Empress of Soul” has released a statement sharing her reasoning behind the decision.
Kaepernick sparked a national dialogue in 2016 when he chose to kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and social inequality.
In a statement to USA Today, Knight writes, “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”
She goes on, “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good—I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”
She also prays her rendition of the anthem “will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward.”