At least 100 students at Notre Dame took a knee during a game on Saturday as the national anthem played during a game against Florida State University.
It was something of an anomaly to see a sea of students kneel at the predominately white school, but religion took center stage and served as the reason why the students showed support of Colin Kaepernick and his kneeling protests, CNN reports.
“We wanted to frame this movement around Notre Dame’s religion, which is Catholic. Some made it a moment of silence, and others prayed,” said Katie Hieatt, one of five protest organizers.
“For me personally, this is both a political and religious issue,” Durrell Jackson, an organizer said. “Police brutality and racial [and] social injustice against brothers and sisters is not the Christian thing to do.”
The organizers brought together 80 members of the junior class and some 30 students in the senior class for the kneeling protest.
The protest was also a throwback to a protest in 1964 when the then school President the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. joined in arms and solidarity at a civil rights rally in Chicago, as they sang “We Shall Overcome.”
The students held on to hope that people of different beliefs would come together for one great cause like Hesburgh and King did back in the day.
“Rather than being dismissed as ‘just a liberal act,’ many might reconsider how this movement of justice and reconciliation aligns deeply with shared values (among many) of faith, Notre Dame tradition, and Fr. Hesburgh,” the group wrote in its mission statement.
“Our main goal is to start a healthy and peaceful dialogue, rather than to keep this a one-sided conversation,” said Brian Gatter, one of the other organizers.
Gatter continued: “One of the things we want to stress the most with this movement is that this is not a protest against the military or the flag, this is about how we treat each other as human beings. We don’t need to reduce people down in order to make a point. We can have a good dialogue, even if we don’t agree with each other.”