‘Superstition’ star Stevie Wonder has knelt in solidarity with the sports stars who have been on the receiving end of criticism from US president Donald Trump for kneeling on the field during the national anthem.
Trump stirred controversy when he last week claimed that players in the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) who knelt, sat or raised their fists to protest police brutality against black people were “sons of bitches”. He added that those who refused to stand for the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ should be fired.
And now Stevie Wonder has entered the row by becoming one of the first people in the music world to make the gesture. The 67-year-old soul pioneer was playing at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park in New York City on Saturday night (September 23) when he knelt down.
Helped by his son Kwame Morris, Wonder bent both knees – one for America, he said, and one for the world. “Tonight I’m taking a knee for America,” he told the thousands at the concert. “And not just one knee - I’m taking both knees. Both knees to pray for our planet, our future, our leaders of our world”
Wonder then repeated the gesture the following night (September 24) at Charlottesville, Virginia, where he was playing with Dave Matthews Band. Making a speech condemning bigotry, Wonder said: “If I can see it, dammit, I know you can see it.”
It’s hardly surprising that Stevie Wonder should be one of the first musicians to lend his support to the black sports players copping flak from Donald Trump’s criticism of their protests. Wonder has tackled police brutality in his material before. 1973’s classic ‘Living for The City’ deals with systemic racism and features a breakdown where a black man is arrested crossing a street and is sentenced to 10 years in jail.