PEARLAND -- In recent weeks, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has turned heads by taking a knee during the national anthem before games.
He’s said he's protesting police brutality and black oppression.
Now, a 10-year-old in Pearland is taking a page out of his playbook: She's protesting the song itself.
Skyla Madria, a fifth grader at Alexander Middle School, explained “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key, a slave owner. One of the verses, which most people don’t sing, specifically refers to slavery, she said.
“When I heard the third verse of the national anthem, I decided that's not right and he shouldn't have wrote that,” Madria said.
She said she has peacefully protested three times in the last two weeks. The fifth grader claims kneeling didn't go over well with a coach at the middle school.
“He told me you should respect my flag, and respect my nation, and you should stand up for this pledge,” said Madria. “He yelled at me. He sent me to the principal. The principal called my mother and called me disgusting for not standing up.”
“I told her, ‘You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re standing for what you believe in.’ I support her 100 percent,” said Elizabeth Owens, the Madria’s mother.
Owens said she called community activist Quannel X because of Pearland ISD’s reaction.
“Why would we ask any African American child or citizen to stand up and honor a flag with an anthem written by a slave owner who promised nothing but turmoil to blacks to the grave?” Quannel X said.
A spokesperson for Pearland ISD clarified that students do not sing the national anthem at school. Instead, they recite the pledge of allegiance, the Texas Pledge, then have a moment of silence.
Pearland ISD said in a statement:
“When a Pearland ISD student recently knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance, the teacher requested that the child stand, and the child did so. The teacher did not touch or discipline the student in any way, as alleged by Quanell X. The student’s parent initially told campus administrators that the child should stand as well.”
When Pearland ISD Superintendent Dr. John Kelly learned of the situation, he determined that students may, by Texas law, opt out of reciting the pledge based on their parents’ consent.
The 10-year-old’s mother said she plans to turn in her written consent to opt out of the pledge of allegiance Thursday.
The family said they still hope to get an apology from Pearland ISD.