National anthem is racist, California NAACP says

In this Thursday, May 18, 2017 photo, Hiroshi Miyamura, center, watches as Ken Reige, left, helps Jamie Popwell and Brantley Cargill of Flags for Vets raise a flag on a new flagpole at Miyamura’s home in Gallup, N.M. (Cable Hoover/Gallup Independent via AP)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS Local) The California NAACP is pushing to get rid of the national anthem that they’re calling racist and anti-black.

“This song is wrong; it shouldn’t have been there, we didn’t have it till 1931, so it won’t kill us if it goes away,” said the organization’s president Alice Huffman.

Colin Kaepernick started the NFL protests, which quickly spread to bring attention to systemic racial injustice in the country. But Huffman says Kaepernick’s message was lost when it turned into a debate about the flag.

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“The message got distorted, the real intentions got overlooked, it became something that’s dividing us, and I’m looking for something to bring us back together,” she said.

Huffman adds that the protests did lead her to look at the lyrics of the “Star Spangled Banner” especially the parts of the anthem we don’t typically sing.

“It’s racist; it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black,” she said.

Huffman is referring to the third stanza which includes the lyric “no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

She says some interpretations conclude that the lyrics celebrate the deaths of black American slaves fighting for freedom, and the song should be replaced with something that supports all of our values.

“It won’t solve any problem,” veteran John Cox said.

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Huffman says it may not solve anything, but it’s a step towards social justice that she says is long overdue.

“This is not about the flag. We love the flag. This is about a song that should never have been the national anthem. This country is a country that has shared values, and the more we respect each other, the better off we’ll be as a country,” said Huffman.

A separate resolution by the California NAACP is calling on Congress to censure President Donald Trump for his remarks about firing those who don’t stand for the anthem. They are also asking NFL teams to let Kaepernick play again.

“He still has a lot of talent, and he has the right to play, why should he be persecuted over peaceful protest?”

The organization is still looking for legislative sponsors for these resolutions.